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Old 03-26-2004, 04:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: Happy Henman

Snarky article but for once, the British press is laying off of Tim and giving him some respect.

Henman's success leaves egg on faces
Mar 26 2004

By David Prior, Daily Post
I'M CONFUSED. Sue Barker isn't on the telly. There isn't a hill full of whooping students with large letters on their T-shirts. And we're most certainly not in the south London monsoon season - you know, the one that lasts a fortnight every June.

And yet Tim Henman appears to be playing tennis.

Hard to believe, I know, so I'd better elaborate. Last weekend I was sifting through the 73 available satellite sport channels - live chariot-racing from Devon, the Premier-ship's Greatest Off-The-Ball Incidents, that sort of thing - when on to the screen came a sight I was quite unprepared for.

Henman playing - and Henman winning. In March. And not only that, but on a surface that at first glance didn't seem to rely on regular watering.

Come arn! he shouted, just like he does at Wimbledon, following up with that fist-pump that looks more like he's trying to de-yolk an egg with one hand.

Yes, it really was him, and before long he was reaching across the net to matily slap a handshake on his defeated opponent. Henman wins outside of SW19 - there was a time British players received the MBE for that.

I'm being facetious, of course. The Tim Henman of 2004 is far from the spindly chap we've come to know and commiserate with every June.

I'm also being inaccurate. He lost. Or at least he did once Roger Federer had uncovered the mysteries of beating Oxford's finest, the world number one having lost six of their seven meetings up until last weekend.

But wait - this wasn't another of those occasions where Henman caught sight of the trophy and immediately fainted.

Whereas in previous years games against the world's elite players would leave Henman's shorts in urgent need of a thorough Persiling, he now appears capable of beating, well, anyone. Because so far this year, he just about has.

Eight months ago, Henman had slipped out of the world's top 30 and was destined it seemed for a gradual lowering into the Question Of Sport captain's chair.

But until the defeat at the Pacific Life Open by Federer, Henman had won his last 11 ATP Masters Series matches, including a comeback from match-point down against America's almighty server Andy Roddick.

Perhaps it's time to readdress the whole Henman conundrum.

OK, so he's not the world's most charismatic performer. He's no Agassi or McEnroe or even, come to think of it, a Bates.

Outside of Wimbledon, that time every year when his name changes to Tim Henmania, he's never likely to win the nation's hearts. The boy who became very good at tennis after practising on the tennis court in his well-off parents' back garden is unlikely to have Hollywood moguls out-bidding each other for the film rights.

Maybe if Wimbledon watchers had a greater array of home talent to bellow at then Henman would have been overtaken by a racier model, a sort of Ronnie O'Sullivan to his Stephen Hendry.

But in the bottomless void that is our emerging British talent, it looks like we're stuck with him.

Maybe, if this early-season winning-games business is anything to go by, that isn't such a bad thing after all.

So let's here it for the new, winning, Henman. Eggs at the ready, come arn!
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