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Wednesday, 28 June, 2000, 07:27 GMT 08:27 UK
A sense of British pride
Aorangi Park
Aorangi Park starts to fill as Henman's match begins
By Gabrielle Lewis at Wimbledon

National loyalty seems to take on a new meaning when Tim Henman plays at Wimbledon.

Bustling through the crowds from one end of the All England Club to Court 13 at the other end, I developed a distinct feeling that I was heading the wrong way.

A swathe of Henmania was migrating in the opposite direction towards Court One, where the British number one's match with Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan was about to get underway.

If they were unable to get inside the show court, they parked themselves into a space on Aorangi Park to watch the action on the big screen. At least there they could cheer in time with their privileged counterparts in the plastic seats.


Having lost 10 of the 15 home crew already, the British crowd's angst in the face of previous disappointments was tangible. Henman could not go out. Greg Rusedski's opening day exit did little to reduce the pressure on the man from Oxford.

Not even Andre Agassi dropping the first set of his match to Taylor Dent in Centre Court could stop the flow of Union Jack bedecked bodies heading north.

Henman also dropped the first set to the gutsy Srichaphan. But where Vince Spadea had triumphed over the vocally partisan spectators and Rusedski, the 21-year-old Thai had no such luck. Henman was not going to buckle.

Tim Henman
Henman carries British hopes again
As the volume of support increased around Court One, so the vibes seemed to find their way to the outside courts where the two British number fours Arvind Parmar and Lucy Ahl were busy making their way through to the second round.

In the end it was a comfortable win for Henman, who secured a meeting with Arnaud Clement 5/7, 6/3, 6/1, 6/3 and a brief experience of the Wimbledon magic for Srichaphan.

Henman's result ensured five Brits survived the first round with Martin Lee and Louise Latimer going through on the opening day. That was the same as the number of seeded players who fell on the second day's play, the biggest of whom was one of the title favourites, Lleyton Hewitt.

So once again Wimbledon looks to be serving up what it has promised. Surprises, upsets, magic and a little bit of good old British spirit.

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See also:

24 Jun 00 | The BBC Team
Novotna tips Tauziat for title
27 Jun 00 | The Brits
Ahl and Parmar taste victory
27 Jun 00 | Wimbledon2000
Hewitt in shock exit
27 Jun 00 | The Brits
Henman overcomes first round jitters
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