Henman Tops Another Slammer

Tim Henman reacts after defeating Gustavo Kuerten. tennis masters cincinnati
AP
Tim Henman followed up his upset of the Wimbledon winner by defeating the French Open champion.

Henman, who beat Pete Sampras earlier in the week, advanced to the final of the Tennis Master Series-Cincinnati with a 6-7 (11), 6-4, 7-6 (0) victory over Gustavo Kuerten on Saturday.

"I knew coming into the match that I was playing well," Henman said, "but I knew that I had a tough opponent."

The match lasted 2 hours, 36 minutes two minutes shorter than Kuerten's quarterfinal match when, as on Saturday, he called for a trainer to apply a Band-Aid to a blister on his right ring finger.

"Maybe I should not have played today," the fourth-seeded Kuerten said.

"I thought I could not play when I went to hit (before the match). But they put on some anesthetic and it felt better."

Henman was told Kuerten might withdraw.

"I heard that about 15 seconds before we went on, but when I saw him, I said, 'He looks pretty healthy to me,"' Henman said.

In Sunday's final, Henman will play the winner of the semifinal between seventh-seeded Thomas Enqvist of Sweden and unseeded Arnaud Clement of France. Heading into their match late Saturday, Clement was the only player who had not lost a set this week.

The 13th-seeded Henman sensed he was playing the best tennis of his career when he beat defending champion Sampras here. Henman, the first British player to reach the semifinals of this tournament in 23 years, had been 0-6 for his career against Sampras.

Henman and Kuerten had met only once before, in the quarterfinals at Key Biscayne, Fla., two years ago, and Henman won there, too.

"Serving was the key, although my second serve was not great," Henman said. "When it's this hot, the balls bounce high and are hard to control."

Henman might have ended the match much sooner if he had not double-faulted three times in the first-set tiebreaker. One double-fault cost him a set point when he was up 6-5. The other, at 11-12, gave the Brazilian the set.

Henman won the second set thanks to a single break of serve in the fifth game. After that game, Kuerten called for medical attention to his finger.

"I had a lot of big points and couldn't convert anything," said Kuerten, who despite the loss will still be atop the ATP Championship Race next week.

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