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2004 Sep 08 - US Open: Henman into quarter-final

Birthday boy Tim Henman reached the quarter-final of the US Open by default as German Nicolas Kiefer retired with a damaged tendon in the fifth set 6-7(5) 6-3 6-1 6-7 3-0.

Set 1 : Despite being broken twice and down 4-0 the British No.1 fought back to force a tie-break which Nicolas edged 7-5.

Set 2 : The German took an early break for 3-1 but Tim won the next 5 games to level the match.

Set 3 : Tim look unstoppable as he rushed to a 5-0 lead, allowing the German just one hold of serve before wrapping up the set 6-1.

Set 4 : Nicolas was back on track and in fighting spirit - even if it meant hurling abuse at the line judge who called a foot-fault against him and picking up a code violation. The set went with serve and it was the German who once again shaded the tie-break 7-5.

Set 5 : Tim started as well as he could have hoped by breaking the German and rushing to a 3-0 lead. Nicolas had felt his wrist pop during the third game and called the trainer at the break. Moments later he went over the shake Tim's hand, the match was over.

Although a disappointing end to an epic match for both players it was bitter sweet for Tim Henman who is celebrating his 30th birthday today.

After the match Tim said:

"It's a strange way to win a match after I'd been fighting so hard.

"But I thought I'll take it after we'd been playing the way we had.

"Kiefer told me he felt something pop in his wrist and it was a tough break for him."

Tim has of course had persistent back problems which started before the US Open and have been an issue right throughout the tournament. Tim added:

"It's funny how things have changed. I've played some good tennis and that gives me confidence going into the latter stages.

"It seems when I release the pressure on myself - and it took a back injury to do it - then I play my best tennis.

"Everything so far has been a bonus and this is a good way to finish my birthday."

Tim will face the Slovak Dominik Hrbaty in his forthcoming quarter-final match. Despite his back problems, Tim holds a psychological 2-0 win/loss record over the Slovak.


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