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Archive for henman

Henman v Lopez as it happened

All England Club, 25 June-8 July

Wimbledon second round result:

T Henman (GB) v F Lopez (Spa)

6-7 6-7 6-3 6-2 1-6

By Tom Fordyce


Henman 1-6 Lopez
Alas – that’s it. Lopez holds without a sniff of a problem, and the Henman dream is over. Lopez screams a celebration; Tim slumps. Sorry I couldn’t bring you the result you probably wanted. Wasn’t it ever thus?

Henman 1-5 Lopez
Forget the effigies – we now need live sacrifices. Lopez breaks again in an epic game, and the end is now perilously near.

Henman 1-4 Lopez
Right – get the horse-shoes out, the rabbits’ feet, the four-leaf clovers. If you’ve got a spare effigy knocking around, now’s the time to throw it on the pyre. Lopez careers through his service game, and somehow he’s now the man parked in the driving-seat with his foot pressing pedal to the metal.

Henman 1-3 Lopez
Finally he’s on the board, but is it ever a mighty struggle… Lopez pings hm back to deuce twice, his confidence running fresh again, and the noisy patroits fall silent again. A crisp volley wins the day as the game-clock clicks round past the three-hour mark.

Henman 0-3 Lopez
Ouch – Lopez, benefiting from the new, faster balls, barrels in three firecracker first serves to leap into a three-game lead. Henman’s suddenly angry, snapping at the umpire when a ball-boy struggles to pick up a stray ball and shaking his head angrily when the German official fails to simper an apology.

Henman 0-2 Lopez
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Lopez is back – he whistles a backhand pass down the line to get to 15-40 and then watches Henman double-fault meekly at break point. It’s never easy, is it?

Henman 0-1 Lopez
After a long breather for a Henman courtesy break, the players rise from their seats to tumultuous applause. Lopez is out of the blocks quickly, driving Henman back with whipped forehands to hold serve. Nervous gulps all round.


Henman 6-2 Lopez
Ding-dong – we’re level! An ace opens the game up, two driving forehands right onto the baseline extend the lead and a Lopez lofter seals it. Extraordinary scenes. Ready for the final-set showdown?

Henman 5-2 Lopez
Lopez wins his first game in six, but he has to burst every rivet to do so. Albert Costa, so content a set and a half ago, now has his chin in his hands.

Henman 5-1 Lopez
It’s become a canter. Tim holds to love, and middle-aged women in the crowd are hugging.

Henman 4-1 Lopez
Lopez is falling apart like an old sofa – he plonks a mid-court forehand into the net to give away a break point and double-faults spectacularly to capitulate once again. Henman is now reading his serve as easily as Einstein flicking through the Beano, and the match has been turned on its head.

Henman 3-1 Lopez
The Henman fist-pump, so conspicious by its absence earlier, is now coming out on almost every point. He holds with iron-wristed confidence and waves the F-P at Lucy in the VIP box, who flashes a thin-lipped yet encouraging smile.

Henman 2-1 Lopez
Have we just witnessed the turning-point? Lopez is wobbling like a freshly-made jelly – Henman eases away another volley to set up three break points, and as Lopez’s forehand flies long he runs to the net, stares his opponent right in the snout and points to his own eyes. Break of serve, and that was the most aggressive thing I’ve ever seen Tim do. It was vaguely shocking, like hearing your mother use the f-word while in conversation with her friend Dorothy Freshwater.

Henman 1-1 Lopez
The pegs are level again, but Lopez’s body language has changed completely – where once he loped like a lion, he’s now slumped like a ticked-off teenager.

Henman 0-1 Lopez
In bright sunshine, Lopez gets himself going again with a much more solid service display. Metre-long shadows across the court, and every point is now being cheered like a Lottery scratchcard win.


Henman 6-3 Lopez
He’s right back in this, just 20 minutes after being two sets and a break down – Henman holds to 15, punching away a high backhand volley on the run, and the crowd rise to him. Excellent horse-shoe action earlier, it would appear.

Henman 5-3 Lopez
Now it’s Lopez who’s having to fight like a jam-jarred wasp to hold his own serve. Henman pushes him to 40-30 and leaves a big dent in the Iberian confidence as he does so. Time to serve for the set.

Henman 5-2 Lopez
There’s a bite and bounce on the Henman serve that just wasn’t there before. Whatever he put in his water four games ago should be made available on the NHS. The results are in too from the vote we’ve had running on the website – of the 18,000 who got involved, 4.5% predicted an easy Tim victory, 32.7% Tim through in a thriller, 29.2% Tim beaten in an epic and 33.5% Tim crushed. 4.5% – what were you thinking?

Henman 4-2 Lopez
Could this be the start of something? Could it? A new Henman has appeared, a man with the touch of an angel at the net and a devil at the baseline, and Lopez can’t handle it – he’s broken again. The crowd, slumped in slumber for so long, are in rampant voice.

Henman 3-2 Lopez
Suddenly, and from nowhere, Henman’s dander is up. He produces his best service game of the day, booming in ripper after ripper, and holds to love. Delicate green shoots of hope begin to nudge through the topsoil.

Henman 2-2 Lopez
Hold on a second – could there be a glimmer of light at the end of this dismal tunnel? Lopez’s serve wobbles for the very first time, and a double fault gives Tim a break point. He dances around like S Club 7’s Bradley while waiting for the serve, steps up and creams a backhand into Lopez’s toes. He’s broken back!

Henman 1-2 Lopez
Tim digs deep to stem the flow of games, but the stench of panic is in the air. Something needs to change here and fast – the Lopez serve has been almost impregnable so far.

Henman 0-2 Lopez
Lopez accelerates through his service game, and he looks in complete control. Coach Costa, a straight-faced mannequin earlier on, is now beaming openly.

Henman 0-1 Lopez
With the dust still settling on that horror, Lopez goes for all-out attack on the Henman serve. It’s an inspired tactic – Henman’s mind is all over the shop, and he puts yet another volley into the net to go another break down. Complete silence on Centre.


Henman 6-7 Lopez
Calamity for Henman – Lopez comes to the net to put away an Edbergesque volley and then watches happily as a half-hit Henman backhand loft drifts into the tramlines. He fights back from 5-0 down to 6-5 as Lopez gets wobbly-legged in sight of the tape, only for Lopez to seal a two-set lead with a overhead backhand volley that Henman just can’t reach. It’s looking grim now – it’ll take another epic five-set sensation to keep British interest in the tournament alive…

Henman 6-6 Lopez
Hold onto your seats – it’s tie-break time once again as Henman survives a missed overhead smash to keep the smooth-moving Spaniard at bay. For now.

Henman 5-6 Lopez
Lopez piles on the pressure with another big service game, and Henman duffs two more mystifying mis-hits into the net. He needs to hold serve to stay in the set, but things are worryingly flat out there. Reach for your lucky horse-shoe and get rubbing.

Henman 5-5 Lopez
Roars of approval and relief as a Henman ace polishes off a rock-solid service game to love. The sun’s out on Centre Court and the corporate types finally in their courtside seats, and the atmosphere is beginning to build.

Henman 4-5 Lopez
The constrast is impossible to ignore – after that see-saw epic in the last game, Lopez holds to love as Henman’s groundstroke radar goes awol once again. Only one man looks capable of breaking here, and he wasn’t brought up in Oxfordshire.

Henman 4-4 Lopez
Red lights flash and sirens wail as Henman mis-hits a volley into the net to teeter at 0-40. He shows nerves of titanium to crash in three successive sizzlers of first serves to draw level, only to leave a simple volley at the net and watch aghast as it falls in by a metre. Lopez eyes him like a hyena watching a limping goat and sets up two more break points with raking forehands, only for Henman to hang on with another brace of boomers. At last Lopez goes long from the baseline and Henman holds – but that was a mighty close-run thing.

Henman 3-4 Lopez
A frame-it-and-put-it-on-the-wall of a backhand pass from Henman gets him to 30-30, the first time he’s been within racquet-length of a break all day. Lopez stands on the service line, looks down, bounce-bounces the ball and hammers in an unstoppable first serve to snuff out the danger in half an instant. Where’s the break going to come from today?

Henman 3-3 Lopez
Knees knock and teeth chatter as Henman slips to 0-30 on his own serve. With Lopez clambering all over his serve, he holds his nerve to dink a life-saving volley past the Spaniard at the net and then comes up with a fizzer of a first serve to take the game.

Henman 2-3 Lopez
Anything you can do, says Lopez, and holds to love himself with minimum fuss. He strolls over to his chair, wipes the handle of his racquet on a towel and stares into space with the placid expression of a man completing his most satisfying clear-out of the day.

Henman 2-2 Lopez
Relief all around as Henman holds to love. Our umpire for today intones the score with a Germanic drawl: “Two gamesch all.”

Henman 1-2 Lopez
If Lopez had any fans in here, they’d now be standing up and singing, “It’s all gone quiet over there,” while pointing all around Centre Court. But since his coach Albert Costa is the only pro-Lopez face in the entire crowd, an eerie silence descends over SW19 instead.

Henman 1-1 Lopez
Lopez gets close at 30-30, but he mis-hits a backhand to give Tim a precious slice of daylight. Update on Thumbgate: he’s still fiddling with it like a mangy cur scratching at a flea bite.

Henman 0-1 Lopez
Tim’s in a certain depth of trouble here. Felithiano’s first serve is firing on all available cylinders, and Henman just can’t get involved. Coach Paul Annacone watches with only the merest flicker of concern on his chops.


Henman 6-7 Lopez
Yells of anguish around Centre as Henman duffs a simple volley at 3-1 and then falls apart completely on the next four points. He double-faults at 3-5, and even a plaintive scream from a chubby-faced lady in an ill-fitting jester’s hat cannot prevent him lofting a forehand long to concede the set. Lopez yells with happiness to a background of desultory appluase.

Henman 6-6 Lopez
Lopez holds with another slinging first serve, and the match rolls into tie-break town. Where’s your money? No sniffs of breaks of serve today, so the next few points could be key to the whole shaboodle.

Henman 6-5 Lopez
Easy peas for the home-town hero – he holds to love, and the first Cub scout-style outbreak of “Henman! (clap-clap-clap)” rings around Centre. The Duke of Kent, sporting his usual magnificent facial hair-furniture, strokes his glistening pate reflectively.

Henman 5-5 Lopez
Tim tries to monkey with the Lopez head by bouncing around like a lightweight Sumo as he waits for the serve, but the floppy-haired Iberian is made of stern stuff. He leans back and blasts in the first ace of the day to edge us closer to the tie-break.

Henman 5-4 Lopez
Henman’s tucked into his groove nicely now – he steams into the net and dictates the chat from there, popping away two soft-touch volleys to edge ahead.

Henman 4-4 Lopez
Henman gets a little nibble at 30-30 when Lopez booms a forehand long, only for his Spanish foe to close out the game with a cheeky exchange of bish-bosh volleys at the net. More of that cut on Henman’s right thumb – perhaps Garry Richardson was right to be concerned, because Tim keeps looking down suspiciously down at the plaster he’s got covering it. It’s clearly smarting.

Henman 4-3 Lopez
That’s a little more like it – Henman serve-volleys for the first time today and immediately looks more comfortable. Lucy H is wearing a large pendant that seems to be made from jade – a Maori good luck charm, perhaps.

Henman 3-3 Lopez
Big serving from Feliciano, and Henman fails to get a point on the board. Standards sloppy at the mo, and the match hasn’t really got going again. Team Henman are here once again in the same order as Wednesday – (from left to right) coach Paul Annacone, physio Johan de Beer, Mrs Henman, Mrs H Snr and Mr H Snr.

Henman 3-2 Lopez
Henman holds to love as Lopez returns like a man holding a racquet in the wrong hand. The umpire takes advantage of the changeover to make a telephone call from the comfort of his lofty perch.

Henman 2-2 Lopez
Three mis-hit returns in a row from Tim, and Lopez draws level easy-style. Huge grey clouds overhead, but sunshine too. We’re still going.

Henman 2-1 Lopez
After the hiccup of a double fault – greeted by a shout of “No worries, Tim!” from a plum-voiced worrier in the crowd, Henman polishes off the game with a big serve down the middle which Lopez blocks wide.

1305 BST: Rishi Persad does his usual rabble-rousing on Henman Hill, where various half-cut public schoolboys in polo shirts shout “Go on Tim!” obligingly for the cameras.

1258 BST: Centre Court is surprisingly empty as Henman pads out. Sue Barker, wearing a trademark lilac jacket and skirt combo, stands courtside and chews the fat with a grey-suited John McEnroe. Mac has plumped for the sort of dull brown tie that a headmaster might have worn in 1983.

1251 BST: Weather update: it should be OK for the next three hours at least. Not particularly warm, but non-wet at least.

1237 BST: Just like that, it’s now Thursday afternoon. Tim’s been out practising, and despite a small cut appearing on his thumb overnight – which gets BBC roving reporter Garry Richardson very excited – he looks in prime shape.

1946 BST: Play has been officially abandoned for the night. I repeat: sack it off and go home. We’ll be back with Tim and Feliciano sometime on Thursday afternoon. Probably for the best, to be honest.

1940 BST: I don’t know why they bothered – it’s raining again. Sigh. That surely will be it for the day. Surely.

1929 BST: It has stopped raining, it’s true. And there are whispers that we could still squeeze in 45-odd minutes of tennis. In fact – could it be – the covers are coming off!

1802 BST: Three bedraggled teenagers stand in the rain outside Sue’s studio, waving soggy pieces of paper on which are written the words “We heart Sue”. At least they’re not smoking, or getting each other pregnant.

1747 BST: Optimistic? Which fool said optimistic? It’s belting it down again, and Sue Barker has just started a link by saying, “Well, we’ve beeen hearing about the success of tennis in Belgium…”

1730 BST: Covers update: they’re coming off Centre. I’m making no predictions about re-starts after the glaring whoopsie earlier, but be optimistic.

1715 BST: For those concerned about Sue B after the earlier comment, rest easy – she’s been chatting to Jimmy Connors and is now giggling like a schoolgirl. He gave her some chat about the unofficial competition he used to have with John McEnroe over who could wear the tightest shorts on court, and she was pacified in an instant.

1709 BST: It’s now whacking it down. Official. Those foolish enough to turn up without brollies are now fashioning makeshift covers from anything thay can lay their hands on – plastic bags, coats, over-priced official programmes.

1703 BST: Groans from the crowd – the covers are going to be kept on for a while, as the Wimbledon radar indicates that another shower is on its way. Even as the stadium announcer solemnly intones the words, the moisture begins to fall from the skies. He signs off with only the slightest hint of smugness creeping into his voice.

1656 BST: Better news from SW19 – the rain has stopped. The covers remain on, but we shouldn’t be too long. The impatient ones in the crowd try to get a slow hand-clap going, only for their efforts to founder on the politeness of the majority.

1649 BST: I thought I was disappointed – you should have seen Sue Barker’s face. She looked like she was about to burst into tears.

While we wait for the clouds to scud off, website users can amuse themselves by downloading their very own Tim Henman masks. And Nadal masks, for that matter. There’s people on Centre Court wearing them, you know.

1644 BST: Uh-oh – brollies begin to pop up all around, and a gruff bark from the umpire calls the players off. The BBC weather crew did predict this, but the disappoinment still stings – it’s like walking into a country boozer on a hot summer’s day, thirst raging, only to be told that they’ve stopped serving.

Henman 1-1 Lopez
Early sniff of a break for the home-town hero, only for Lopez to volley like a grass-court legend and see off the danger. Just to run through the official Henman support team court-side, we’ve got (from left to right) coach Paul Annacone, physio Johan de Beer, Mrs Henman, Mrs H Snr and Mr H Snr. Lucy is a woman transformed from yesterday – she’s sharing a joke with Johan and flicking her blonde locks around happily as she does so.

Henman 1-0 Lopez
Delight all around as Tim holds to love with three crunching serves and a crisp volley. Henman could fall over his shoelaces and still get a round of applause out here.

1631 BST: Cheeky fact before we get going: Lopez is staying in the same house as Rafael Nadal this fortnight. The pair are old pals – they play doubles together – although apparently they failed to breakfast together this morning. Rafa got up early to go off and practise, while Feliciano enjoyed a lie-in. One of them is world number two, the other 78. Work that one out.

1627 BST: Here come the brave musketeers, striding onto Centre Court to excited applause from the assembled throng. The grey-blazered committee member who leads them out then pats them both nervously on the shoulder before scurrying off to his ringside seat.
Story from BBC SPORT