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Stoppage Benefits Henman

July 04, 2001|RANDY HARVEY | TIMES ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

WIMBLEDON, England — British tennis fans, longing for their first Wimbledon men's champion since 1936, spent a fitful night Monday after darkness caused suspension of the fourth-round match involving Tim Henman, their last remaining player in this year's tournament. Henman was trailing Todd Martin at the time, 2-1, in sets.

But their hopes were renewed Tuesday, when Henman, seeded sixth, rallied to win two sets and the match, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

The interval proved to be a break for Henman on two counts. It allowed him to rest a sore back, which felt better Tuesday, and to break Martin's momentum.

Asked whether he would have won if the match could have been completed Monday night, Henman, correctly, answered, "Who knows?"

"We'll never know that," he said. "Certainly, what momentum was there was with Todd at that stage. But I still felt like I had a good chance."

Martin wasn't bitter, although he was disappointed that he'd been unable to finish what he'd started on the day he started it.

"I would never say it's unfair," he said. "However, it definitely affected the result of the match. In basketball, in football, you name it, any sport that's got a timeout, they call time out to stop the momentum and it lasts a minute, a minute and a half. For us, we've got a 19-, 20-hour timeout. You know, a lot can change over that period of time, and we saw that it did."

Henman plays Roger Federer, who upset No. 1 Pete Sampras on Monday, in today's quarterfinals. In other matches, Andre Agassi plays Nicolas Escude, Pat Rafter plays Thomas Enqvist and Marat Safin plays Goran Ivanisevic.

Martin believes that Henman might be at a disadvantage because he had to play Tuesday. The other men had the day off.

"I think it's unfair to Tim now to have to come out here and play two sets today when the other seven competitors left all had a day's worth of rest," he said. "It's essential. I just hope for Tim's sake that it won't affect his progress."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Quarterfinals

Today's men's matches:

* Marat Safin (4), Russia, vs. Goran Ivanisevic, Croatia

* Roger Federer (15), Switzerland, vs. Tim Henman (6), Britain

* Thomas Enqvist (10), Sweden, vs. Patrick Rafter (3), Australia

* Nicolas Escude (24), France, vs. Andre Agassi (2)

TV: Channel 4, 10 a.m.;

TNT, 1 p.m. (both delayed)

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