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Old 09-24-2002, 09:09 AM   #5
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His DC dairy from the official site:


Davis Cup: Great Britain Vs Thailand, Sep 20-22 2002

WORLD GROUP PLAY-OFF
VENUE: Birmingham NIA

Great Britain bt Thailand 3-2
Tim Henman bt Danai Udomchoke 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
Martin Lee lost to Paradorn Srichaphan 0-6 6-7 2-6
Tim Henman/Miles MacLagan bt Paradorn Srichaphan/Danai Udomchoke 6-7 6-4 7-5 6-2
Tim Henman bt Paradorn Srichaphan 6-3 6-2 6-3
Arvind Parmar lost to Danai Udomchoke 3-6 1-6


It had been a really difficult week for all concerned leading up to the first day of the tie with Thailand as nobody, including myself, had any idea as to how big a part I was going to be able to play due to my shoulder injury.

I had worked extremely hard over the past couple of weeks with my re-hab and whilst I hadnít felt any impingement during practice, playing best-of-five-set matches was another matter altogether, and so it proved.

Once I got onto the court for my first singles match with Thailandís number two Danai Udomchoke I really struggled to find any kind of rhythm at all. I was mistiming my groundstrokes and rushing my approach shots, which played right into his hands and he deservedly won the first set 6-4 with a solitary break of serve.

To his credit he handled the situation very well and made very few unforced errors, and when I did manage to put him under pressure he came up with some excellent passing shots.

However, I realised that I just needed to settle down and somehow find a gear change and once I broke his serve for the first time early in the second set I was able to relax and take control of the match.

I eventually won 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 to give us a 1-0 lead and I was very relieved to have come through unscathed - it would have been a nightmare to have taken the chance and then felt my shoulder go during the match and been forced to retire hurt, which would have really jeopardised our chances of winning the tie.

Martin Lee was next up against Paradorn Srichaphan, who had been playing the best tennis of his life during the North American hard court season, and the Thai number one came through in straight sets to level the tie at 1-1.

I was a little unsure as to how my shoulder would react overnight so I was very pleased to walk out onto the practice court on Saturday and feel no pain whatsoever.

Therefore the doubles was on and Miles MacLagan and I were up against Srichaphan and Udomchoke in what was always going to be the crucial match of the weekend as is so often the case in Davis Cup.

We started off a little shaky, taking a little bit of time to get used to playing with each other and lost a very close opening set on a tie-break. Although we had been in Birmingham all week, Miles and I were unable to get any court time together as my shoulder was only allowing me to play for an hour a day, and therefore I was concentrating on my singles.

However, once we managed to secure an early break in the second set we really started to unsettle Udomchoke who isnít a natural doubles player by any stretch of the imagination and made it count, winning the second set 6-4 to level matters at one set all.

We made the perfect start to the second set by breaking Srichaphan and we were really starting to gel together well and use the momentum, which was definitely in our favour.

However, after an injury time-out for Srichaphan, we let them back into the match and I dropped my serve at 5-4 when serving for the set. Fortune was on our side, though, as we managed to break back straight away with the help of a couple of favourable line calls and Miles then served out the set 7-5 to give us a crucial two-sets-to-one lead.

By this stage Srichaphan was really struggling and the fourth set was relatively comfortable, which we won 6-2.

Miles capped a fantastic day off by serving out the match in style on a day Iím sure heíll remember for the rest of his life. I certainly thought that the way he handled both himself and the situation was nothing short of phenomenal, and heíd helped to put us firmly in the driving seat going into the last day.

The original plan was for me to try and play the first two days and then rest on the third. However, once I awoke on Sunday I was very surprised by the fact that my shoulder felt pretty good, and after warming up I had a chat with Roger Taylor and decided that it was worth one more big effort.

I was a little tired from the first couple of days and wasnít really sure how well I was going to have to play to win, but I proceeded to play one of the best matches of my life, and beat Srichaphan 6-3 6-2 6-3 to win the tie and take us back to the World Group in 2003.

So the weekend finished perfectly and everybody left satisfied, me included. Davis Cup is a totally unique experience and to have been able to produce the goods in the manner I did - given my preparation - was intensely satisfying.

The important thing now is to build on this win and produce the goods when it matters in the World Group. The big picture would obviously be to win the cup itself, but realistically we canít look beyond the first round.

Playing away from home may prove tricky depending on who we get drawn against but playing at home in front of 9,000 screaming fans gives us a chance against anybody.
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