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  Tuesday, 28 August, 2001, 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK
Henman struggles through
Tim Henman during his first round match at the US Open
Henman had a two-set lead in his first round match
Tim Henman had to battle through a gruelling five-set marathon to overcome qualifier Jan Vacek in the first round of the US Open in New York.

In hot and humid conditions, Henman, suffering from a stomach upset, was made to toil for nearly four hours after leading two sets to love at one stage.

Henman, who was also treated for a leg injury during the match, will now play Brazilian Fernando Meligeni in the second round.

Despite his ailments, Henman should have wrapped up victory long before he finally did but showed real determination to pull through.

Tim Henman
Henman had to dig deep

"My stomach didn't feel good, I didn't feel comfortable on court - I was sweating and getting dehydrated," said Henman.

He had begun the match assertively, taking advantage of Vacek's early nerves to secure a break in the Czech's first service game.

That proved enough for the ninth seed to take the first set.

Two lucky net cords helped Henman to a break in the third game of the second set.

The 26-year-old Briton consolidated his advantage with another break to win the set 6-2.

At that point, Henman looked to be on his way to a comfortable win but he allowed Vacek to break him in the second game of the third set.

Vacek had three break point for a double break but Henman clawed his way back into the set and took it to a tiebreak.


It was a mental and physical battle more than a tennis battle but I don't think it'll be a problem for me to recover
Tim Henman

Henman struck first in the tiebreak but it was Vacek who then took command and took two points off the Henman serve to clinch the set. Henman began to visibly tire in the fourth set and Vacek broke him in the seventh game with a passing shot down the line.

Three double faults in Henman's next service game allowed Vacek to break again for the fourth set and secure the advantage of serving first in the fifth.

The British number one dug deep and broke in the first game of the fourth only to lose his next service game.

Henman broke again to lead 4-3 at which point the players had to leave the court because of thunderstorm.

The break of an hour and 40 minutes seemed to revive Henman and he took just seven minutes to wrap up victory when the players returned to the court.

Martin Lee stumbles in first round
Martin Lee stumbles in first round

Meanwhile, Britain's Martin Lee eventually went down 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 3-6 despite a performance of true grit against Holland's number 24 seed Sjeng Schalken.

Lee won the first set with some composed and thoughtful tennis but the Dutchman cruised through the next two.

To his credit 23-year-old Lee refused to surrender and despite losing his serve in the first game of the fourth set he blasted back to break the Dutchman in the fourth game and take the set to level the match.

The match went to a final set, going with serve until Schalken managed to eke out the vital break in the eighth game.

The Dutchman then went on to serve out the match.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC tennis correspondent Iain Carter
"Henman struggled in the debilitating humidity"
Britain's Tim Henman
"I wasn't feeling my best out there"
Britain's Martin Lee
"It could have gone either way"
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22 Aug 01 | US Open tennis
28 Aug 01 | US Open tennis
Links to more US Open tennis stories are at the foot of the page.


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