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2004 May 28 - R.Garros: Henman crushes Galo Blanco

Tim Henman shocked clay-court specialist Galo Blanco of Spain with a 7-6(3) 6-1 6-2 straight sets victory to reach the forth round of Roland Garros.

In the first set Tim opened up the scoring by holding his serve to love with the help of two aces and two forehand winners. The next 11 games went with serve as both players held with relative ease. A tie-break followed and Tim earned an early mini-break for 2-0 which he held at 3-1 but the Spaniard levelled at 3-3 only to concede another mini-break for 4-3 with Tim still to serve. Tim held both his service points for 6-3 and earn 3 match points, but he only needed one to take the breaker 7-3.

Galo was clearly shell-shocked by the first set loss and Tim went from strength to strength playing one of the best sets of his career. Tim immediately broke serve for 1-0 and continued to break and hold serve until he was eading 5-0 - the highlight being a stunning disguised lob in the 5th game. With the set seemingly in the bag Tim lost his concentration for a moment which led to dropping his serve for 5-1. With Galo was serving to stay in the set but the British No.1 earned himself a set point which he took at the first time of asking for 6-1.

Tim immediately lost his opening serve in the third set - his second consecutive loss of serve - to trail 0-1 but he responded by breaking Galo for the fifth consecutive time to level at 1-1. Tim was back on track and held serve comfortably before breaking Galo for the sixth consecutive time to lead 3-1 and then consolidating for 4-1. Galo finally held his serve for 4-2 and desperately needed to recover the break but Tim didn't falter and held for 5-2. Galo was serving to stay in the match but it was clear Tim had absolutely demoralised the Spaniard as he brought up 3 match points and took the first one for a 6-2 final set.

Amazingly, this is the first time Tim has reached the forth round of Roland Garros. On Sunday he will face the charismatic Frenchman Michael Llodra. The two have met before only once - Wimbledon second round in 2003 - and Tim won in straight sets 6-4 6-4 6-3.

After the match Tim said:

"I'd been in the third round four times before and I've now got through to the fourth round. But why stop there?

"I feel good about my game so I will keep seeing what damage I can do.

"The way I recovered after some points in the early round matches, I felt really lethargic.

"Now I'm feeling stronger though I still feel a little bit weak after long games. But it's a marked improvement."

Regarding the lack of concentration which saw Tim drop the two consecutive games at the end of the second set and the start of the third set, Tim added:

"At 40-0 up, for the next 10 minutes I lost my rhythm and clarity of what I was trying to do. The aim for me is that it should not take 10 minutes - next time it will be five minutes. Then it will be only a game.

"It's how quickly I can switch back into it. That's my aspiration. I have improved a lot over the last six months but there's still work to do."

Tim's forth round opponent Michael Llodra commented on their previous meeting at Wimbledon last year and his progress at Roland Garros this year:

"He was much, much better than I was. I was very tense because we were playing on Centre Court, with all the legend of Centre Court in Wimbledon. I was not in very good shape.

"Now, I have nothing to lose.

"Every time I look at myself in the mirror, I'm saying, 'Oh God, you made it to the fourth round this time'. I can't even believe it.

"I had never won a match at Roland Garros, and now I've won three in a row. This is quite an achievement as far as I'm concerned.

"I know it's going to be a fantastic match. Playing Tim Henman is fantastic for me. I'm looking forward to it."

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