Lleyton Hewitt continues dominance over Tim Henman
ROTTERDAM (Netherlands): Lleyton Hewitt underlined his supremacy over Britain’s Tim Henman with a 6-3 6-3 victory to reach the final of the World Indoor Tournament on Saturday.
The Australian sixth seed will be bidding for his 21st singles title when he faces champion Max Mirnyi of Belarus or French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero in Sunday’s final.
The Adelaide baseliner had never been beaten by the British number one in six previous encounters and the result was no different after their seventh clash. “I feel like I’m capable of beating anyone on any given day,” said former world number one Hewitt, who entered the tournament only after changing his mind about watching his Belgian girlfriend Kim Clijsters compete in Antwerp this week. “I’ve really got no idea (why I’ve got a good record against Henman). Maybe my game doesn’t match up that well against him but I’ve played pretty well every time I’ve played against him.”
Henman had stepped on court with high expectations after ending world number one Roger Federer’s 16-match winning streak in ATP-sanctioned events on Friday evening.
Hewitt, however, was an altogether different prospect. Having taken a measly two sets off Hewitt in their previous meetings, Henman knew he would have to produce something special but started with his main weapon, the volley, misfiring badly.
Dropped serve: The 29-year-old British number one dropped his serve in the third game after whipping a forehand long and failed to make a dent on the Hewitt serve during the first set.
He won only four points on the Australian’s serve before being broken for a second time to lose the set. Henman dumped a backhand volley into the net to hand Hewitt his first set point, which the former Wimbledon champion converted by forcing the fifth seed into a forehand error.
Three times a runner-up at the Dutch port city, Henman appeared to have got the measure of his opponent when he broke Hewitt in the first game of the second. But that proved to be just a blip as Hewitt went on to level at 2-2 with a superb crosscourt winner past a net-charging Henman.
Another break in the eighth game compounded Henman’s dismal showing before Hewitt served out for victory after 71 minutes when the Briton sailed a backhand long. “I was disappointed with the standard I played. Whenever I play Lleyton, my biggest problem is that I play a little bit over aggressively and that produces the mistakes,” said Henman. “I know the right way to play against Lleyton but my execution is not good enough and that’s an exciting challenge for me to overcome that.”
More excited: Tim Henman was confident about his form.
“I couldn’t be more excited with the direction my game is going,” said the British number one, who is on the verge of breaking into the top 10 rankings. “I know I am on the way and my service has really improved. “Nine months ago I used to lose my service twice in a set and that is not happening anymore but Lleyton just had all the answers today to my game plan and I think he really played well.” Henman put on a superb display to knock out world number one Roger Federer on Friday but could not produce the same level of play against Hewitt. “I am the first to admit that I struggle against Lleyton. His passing shots are probably better then anyone in tennis right now.
“But he won’t get so many opportunities to use it because there are hardly any players who approach the net that often,” he added. —Reuters