Hats off to Tim
for making the last 16 at RG for the first time in his career. With every tournament he seems to be getting better and better and more confident (and more happy
). This is really nice to see!
And this last group at RG is very interesting: I really thought it would be dominated by all the "clay court specialists" (ie, latinos) but with Safin, Federer, and Henman in the mix, it doesn't appear that the Spaniards and Argentines have a stranglehold on clay, which can only be a very good thing.
Henman advances to final 16 at Roland Garros
PARIS -- No. 9 Tim Henman reached the fourth round for the first time in nine appearances at Roland Garros by beating Galo Blanco 7-6 (3), 6-1, 6-2.
The Briton took 1 hour, 58 minutes to finally move into the final 16 on his ninth visit to Roland Garros.
"In the past when I got to the third round here I was really excited that I won a couple of matches at the French," Henman said.
"But the state that my game is in now and the way I am playing I think I want much more out of it."
After taking the first set 7-3 in the tiebreak, Henman left Blanco, a quarterfinalist in 1997, reeling as he captured five games in succession to seal the second set.
The Spaniard gave his supporters a glimmer of hope when he broke Henman in the first game of the third.
However, the Briton broke back immediately before repeating the feat twice more to record a convincing victory.
Henman will play unseeded Frenchman Michael Llodra for a place in the quarterfinals.
The Briton has never gone beyond round four at any Grand Slam event outside of Wimbledon.
In other men's play, two-time runner-up Alex Corretja lost to No. 22 Juan Ignacio Chela 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
In the completion of a men's match suspended Thursday because of darkness, former U.S. Open champion Marat Safin beat Felix Mantilla 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 11-9. Play resumed at 7-all in the fifth set, and Safin converted his first match point when Mantilla sailed a backhand long.
Safin, seeded 20th, needed 24 minutes to close out his victory after playing for 4 hours and 15 minutes Thursday. He finished with 101 winners but also had 117 errors, including 40 in the final set.
The Russian advanced to the fourth round for the fifth time. He has yet to play in a French Open final.