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2004 Jun 01 - R.Garros: Henman reaches semi-finals

Tim Henman became the first British tennis player since Mike Sangster in 1963 to reach the semi-finals of Roland Garros as he crushed Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela in straight sets 6-2 6-4 6-4.

Set 1 : The first set couldn't have started better for the Tim as he immediately broke the Chela serve and then consolidated to lead 2-0. With the next four games going with serve Tim broke again for 5-2. Tim was serving for the set and despite being 15-40 down was able to serve and volley his way out of trouble for 6-2.

Set 2 : Just as in the first set Tim immediately broke the Chela serve but this time the Argentine responded with a break of his own to level at 1-1. Undeterred, the British No.1 broke for 2-1 and proceeded to consolidate for 3-1. After five games with serve Tim earned two set points at 5-4 but only needed one to take the set 6-4.

Set 3 : Juan Ignacio came alive in the third but was unable to impose himself significantly on the game. As the first four games went with serve it was Tim who made a decisive break at 2-2 for a 3-2 lead. The Argentine was unable to recover the break as Tim served out the set 6-4.

After the match today Tim said:

"It's a good sense of achievement, but why stop here?" said the Briton.

"I feel good about my game and I am in good shape. I'm ready to come here on Friday and do it all again."

And added regarding his performances in Grand Slams outside of Wimbledon:

"I certainly felt I should have been doing better and still can. "But if you said I was going to be in the semis of a slam, and it wasn't Wimbledon, I wouldn't have said here."

Tim Henman and his genius part-time coach Paul Annacone have plotted the downfall of many clay court specialists this term by playing to Tim's serve and volley strengths while unnerving the clay courters by bringing them into the net. But the improvements don't stop there as we should also mention the extra bite on the first serve, glorious second kick-serve and a forehand which has improved to rival most of the big hitters. All points which were evident against Juan Ignacio. Tim added:

"I imposed my style right from the start and never let him settle.

"When you can dictate the match like that, it gives you the best chance to win.

"I didn't give him the opportunities to play the way he wanted and I made it look relatively straightforward."

In the semi-final on Friday Tim will be up against Argentine Guillermo Coria who today dismantled 1998 Roland Garros champion Carlos Moya in straight sets 7-5 7-6(3) 6-3. Guillermo has yet to drop a set in the tournament and holds a stunning 36-1 win/loss record on clay dating back to the semi-finals of Roland Garros last year.

Tim has met Guillermo on three previous occasions and lost their last two matches in Cincinnati and Rome last year. The one victory came in 2002 in Monte Carlo.


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