Re: Henman & Sampras, England vs USA.
March 14, 2006
Berdych wipes good points from Henman CV
From Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent in Indian Wells, California
HIS extended family came out in force in the expectation that a few friendly faces might have had an uplifting effect on Tim Henman, but there was to be no reprieve from Tomas Berdych, the Czech Republic’s young lion, and the effect of a 6-4, 6-4 defeat in the second round of the Pacific Life Open is about to have dramatic consequences on Henman’s fortunes.
The points that he gained from reaching the quarter- finals of this championship last year are about to fall from the ATP Tour computer, bringing a probable dip to about No 55 in the rankings and, as a result, little likelihood of a place in the main draw for two of the three spring clay-court Masters Series events in Rome and Hamburg, something that used to be taken as read. He would not put himself through the purgatory of qualifying; what does he do?
All this will have been lost on Pete Sampras, who sat next to Paul Annacone, his former coach and now Henman’s mentor, for half a dozen games in the first set, Chris Gorringe, the recently retired chief executive of Wimbledon who is visiting this neck of the woods for the first time, Larry Stefanki, Henman’s former coach, and Richard Henman, his brother.
They were more concerned with the immediate effect of another setback on Henman’s 2006 resumé, and this one in the perfect outdoor conditions in which he has thrived in years past. This time it was not physical, that is if you disregard the fact that Berdych is a strapping 6ft 5in 20-year-old who clobbers the skin off the ball and moves with a great deal more stealth than a lot of people of his height.
Initially, Henman was solid enough and had he taken three break points in Berdych’s first service game, the pattern of the match would have been emphatically different. But the Czech, ranked No 25, picked off a couple of passes that brought a wry smile to Henman’s lips. It was not so much later in the set when Berdych showed what an athlete he is, reaching a couple of volleys of the highest quality to fashion winners across court.
Apparently, as he prepares to return to the courts next month with an exhibition event in Houston, Texas, Sampras has been working out solidly at his Beverly Hills home. Those who have hit with him say that his forehand is every bit as ferocious as it used to be. Berdych’s is pretty substantial, as Henman would testify.