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  Sunday, 21 January, 2001, 18:55 GMT
Henman: A history of Grand Slam misery
Tim Henman in action at Wimbledon
Henman - more comfortable on the grass at Wimbledon
As Tim Henman falls at the fourth hurdle in the Australian Open, BBC Sport Online's Mark Ashenden takes a look at the Briton's continued failure in Grand Slam events.

The crowd were noisy and Tim Henman's double fault ensured local favourite Pat Rafter progressed to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Head bowed, a dejected Henman had failed again.

Wimbledon aside, the Briton has never gone beyond the fourth round in a Grand Slam event.

Melbourne has proved a reasonably happy hunting ground for the Brit, although for a world top-10 seed, never having reached the quarters in the Australian Open is a poor showing.

Titanic struggle

Apart from in 1998, when he lost a five-set thriller to Frenchman Jerome Golmard in the first round, Britain's number one has reached or gone beyond the third round Down Under in the last four attempts.

Worse, if Henman was being marked for his achievements at the US Open at Flushing Meadows, the report might say 'average, could do much better'.

Two fourth-round appearances and an entertaining exhibition of tennis in the third round against a flying Dutchman in 2000 is all Henman can boast for his US Open exploits.

  Henman's best showings at each Grand Slam
Australian Open - 4th round in 2000 and 2001
French Open - 3rd round in 1999 and 2000
Wimbledon - semi-finals in 1998 and 1999
US Open - 4th round in 1996 and 1998

At the tender age of 22 in 1996, just a year after making his American Open debut, Henman stormed to just one match away from the quarter-finals.

Roberto Jabali, Doug Flach and Todd Martin were all blown away without a set being dropped.

But Swede Stefan Edberg provided sterner resistance, and although Henman claimed the opening set, the British hopes were soon over.

It all looked good again in 1998, but with mutterings of a place in the last eight getting louder, Australia's powerserver Mark Phillippoussis proved too much of a handful.

Tim Henman in action against Pat Rafter
Another early knockout for Henman in Australia

Henman's report for his showings at the French Open are even more disappointing - this has been by far his least successful of Grand Slam tournaments.

Perhaps he's just not keen on getting his socks covered in clay, but Henman's first three visits to the courts in Paris finished in misery at the opening hurdle.

Maybe his stamina should be questioned, a phobia with the dizzy heights of a third round perhaps, or even an allergy to all things Spanish.

In his last two outings at the French Open, Henman has fallen to Spaniards Alberto Berasategui and Fernando Vincente in five gruelling sets with a place in the fourth round beckoning.

Home advantage

Henman undoubtedly is at his most dangerous in the comfortable surroundings of his home city.

His Grand Slam efforts began at Wimbledon in 1994, but he had to wait two years before making quite an impression in front of his home crowd.

Tim Henman holds up Samsung Open trophy
Henman has won the less-important trophies

He reached the quarter-finals where Todd Martin won easily in straight sets, but again got past the fourth round in the following year, only to be defeated by Michael Stich.

British hopes were at their most fervent in 1998 and 1999, but being just one match away from a final place, close friend Pete Sampras proved just too good on both occasions.

Henman may have claimed the Samsung Open in Brighton last year, his second title of 2000, but the truth remains he continues to underperform on the big stage.

Before every Grand Slam tournament he is often described as being a serious contender, but history shows that unless improvements are made Henman will have to come to terms with life as an 'almost-ran'.

Get the lowdown on this year's Australian Open

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See also:

21 Jan 01 | Photo Galleries
21 Jan 01 | Australian Open
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