Re: Henman & Sampras, England vs USA.
Henman slips on the brink
By Gavin Versi in Indian Wells, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 3:43am GMT 12/03/2007
Tim Henman yesterday squandered a great chance to advance to the second round of the Masters Series event in Indian Wells.
Looking understandably rusty in only his third match of the year, Henman was broken three times as Czech opponent Jan Hernych took the first set 7-5.
But the British No 2 hit back to take the second 6-3 and, with his Czech opponent becoming visibly frustrated, looked set for a welcome victory.
The 32-year-old led 4-2 in the decider and served for the match at 5-4, but lost his serve once more and five of the last six games in total as Hernych completed a 7-5 3-6 7-5 win.
Until he won his first grand slam title in 2003, Roger Federer's finest accomplishment was dethroning the great Pete Sampras on Wimbledon's Centre Court two years earlier.
As he prepared for the Indian Wells event, which could see him break yet another record, the Swiss said that he faced Sampras across a net for the first time since that 2001 encounter: the pair practised together for two days at Sampras's home in Los Angeles.
"Beating him in his backyard in Wimbledon was so special to me, so I wanted to beat him in his house," joked the Swiss.
Having surpassed Jimmy Connors's record of 160 successive weeks at No 1 a fortnight ago, Federer will break Guillermo Vilas's tally of 46 consecutive match wins if he triumphs in the Californian desert next weekend.
The bookmakers think it's a 2-5 chance, but Federer himself is not especially fussed about the growing number of records he has broken. Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Telegraph, the Swiss admitted: "I probably wouldn't know all of them."
Federer's place in history will be determined chiefly by the total number of grand slams he wins. Beating Sampras's tally of 14 is near the top of his list of objectives, along with winning Roland Garros and the Olympics. He is also gunning for another of the American's records. "Total weeks at No 1 is an aim for me," he said.
"I spoke to Pete about it the other day. I asked him how it was for him when he got the most weeks at No 1 ever. He didn't remember any celebration or any big thing about it, which I'm surprised about, because he was at the top for 286 weeks."
Unlike Sampras, Federer celebrated his latest feat by going on a boat trip with friends during the Dubai Championships, his latest title. Despite this invincibility, there are several records that Federer believes are beyond him, such as Vilas's 16 titles in a season. "It's almost impossible, but something to go after," he said.
"I won 12 last year, but honestly I don't think it's possible. It's the same with total titles, 109 [held by Connors], I think that's impossible to break. But you never know, all of a sudden there could be a guy who comes and wins them all.''