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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 August, 2004, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Henman crashes out
Tim Henman
Tim Henman's hopes of Olympic glory were blown away in the Athens wind as he lost in the first round to Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic.

In blustery conditions, fourth seed Henman looked lacklustre while Novak, ranked 27, produced a consistently high level of play to win 6-3 6-3.

British number one Henman broke in the very first game but was himself broken three times in the first set.

Novak then broke in the third and ninth games of the second set for victory.

Henman, a silver medallist in the doubles in the 1996 Olympics, began brightly with a break but could not find any rhythm and allowed Novak to immediately break back.

The Czech player then broke again and looked to be in control of the first set, lashing winners around the court.

I certainly didn't play great but I wasn't allowed to play as well as I would have liked
Tim Henman

But serving with the new balls, his level suddenly dropped and Henman managed to break back only to then hand his own serve on a plate to his opponent.

Novak seized his opportunity and then took an early break in the second set.

Henman was still struggling to find his range despite the urgings of the union jack-wavers among the sparse Centre Court crowd.

And his misery was finally completed when he was broken serving at 3-5 in the second set.

Henman refused to blame the windy conditions or a recent back injury for his defeat.

"It certainly was difficult conditions but it was the same for both of us and he certainly handled the wind better," said the 29-year-old.

"I certainly didn't play great but I wasn't allowed to play as well as I would have liked," said Henman said. "Not much better than 5 out of 10."





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