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2004 May 30 - R.Garros: Henman into quarter-finals

Tim Henman battled from two sets down and a match point down on his way to defeating Frenchman Michael Llodra 6-7(2) 4-6 6-4 6-3 9-7 at Roland Garros.

The British No.1 has become the first player since Roger Taylor in 1973 to reach the quarter-finals at the French Open.

Set 1 : In a tentative first where both players lost their opening serves, it was Michael who made a vital breakthrough in the sixth game to lead 2-4 and consolidated for 2-5. With the set drifting away from the Brit he won the next three games straight to level at 5-5. Both players held the their next service games for 6-6 and a tie-break followed. When Tim double faulted at 2-3 the scoring became a one way street as Michael won the next four point to take the breaker 2-7.

Set 2 : Tim opened the serving in the second set but lost to love as the Frenchman took an early break. The next seven games went with serve for 3-5 and Michael then earned himself a set point on the Henman serve which he was unable to convert as Tim held for 4-5. Michael was now serving for the set and Tim earned himself a break point with a stunning forehand shot down the line but Michael held off the challenge to win the set 4-6.

Set 3 : In the third set both players held serve until the fifth game where Michael earned himself a break point which he took with both hands to lead 2-3. The British No.1 knew he was in a dogfight and fought back immediately to recover the break for 3-3. Michael didn't let up for a moment as he was all over the Henman serve to earn a break point which was saved by Tim for 4-3. The next two games went with serve so with Michael serving to stay in the set Tim applied enough pressure to earn a set point which he took with a beautiful cross court forehand for 6-4.

Set 4 : Both players held serve in the forth set until the sixth game when Tim pressured the Llodra serve sufficiently and earned a break point which he took with a superb lob for 4-2. With the next two games going with serve Tim served out the set in routing fashion for 6-3.

Set 5 : Michael served first in the deciding set but the doubts started to creep in as Tim grabbed a double break point and converted to lead 1-0. The next two games went with serve before Michael grabbed back his break deficit to level at 2-2. The next five games went with serve for 4-5. Tim was now serving to stay in the match and served three double faults - handing a match point to the Frenchman - before fighting back to hold serve for 5-5. Both players then held serve for 6-6.

With there being no final set tie-breaker at Roland Garros the match could go on indefinitely until one player has a two game advantage. In the thirteenth game for the final set Michael served up 3 aces in a love game to take the lead 6-7 and Tim responded with a love game of his own with stunning serves and volleys for 7-7. Tim was in the zone and earned a triple break point but only needed one as he landed a decisive break for 8-7. Llodra now looked like a beaten man as Tim served for the match without dropping a point.

In the quarter-final Tim will be up against the useful Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela but Tim refused to look any further ahead than the match on Tuesday. Tim said:

"That's totally the wrong way to approach it. If you start thinking down the road then you're not going to concentrate on your job.

"Who knows what's going to happen? I need to play better on Tuesday. I need to be more committed to my style.

"If I do that and lose then I don't have any complaints.

"Against Llodra I just wanted to keep fighting as hard as I could to try to come away with a win.

"That's what I did. But I'm through to the quarters, so there's a lot to be positive about.

"I wasn't moving particularly well. I was just being reactive rather than proactive. I felt it was him dictating the play. That's something I really need to avoid because that's not my style.

"I didn't play my best and there are some negatives but it's important to push those aside and really focus on the positive aspects.

"I'm pretty close to feeling 100 per cent.

"If you're going to play matches like that you need to be able to draw on everything you've got because it was a tough match physically and an even tougher match mentally."

Tim has met Juan Ignacio Chela on four previous occasions with a level 2-2 win/loss record. Most recently Tim defeated the Argentine in a straight sets encounter in Doha (Qatar) earlier this year.


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