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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 August 2004, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
Henman downbeat after loss
By Matt Davis
BBC Sport in Athens

Tim Henman
Marks out of 10? No more than a five
Tim Henman
Tim Henman refused to blame swirling winds after his shock first round defeat to Czech Jiri Novak on a near-deserted Olympic Centre Court.

"I got off to a good start after a break in the first game. But then he hardly made an error for four games and put me in a difficult situation."

"It was a battle of who would handle the wind the best and I certainly didn't," added the British number one.

Pockets of British fans were among a crowd of just 300 or so who turned out.

Novak, ecstatic after his first Olympic win in three attempts, said he was surprised by the lack of support.

"It is definitely a disappointment. I'm playing Tim Henman in the first round of the Olympic Games and there are no more than 300 people in the arena," he said.

"Luckily from me there were a lot of my team-mates in the crowd - I saw a lot of faces I recognised from the Olympic Village. That was special."

After the meekest of exits, Henman suffered further indignity when Greek officials struggled with the spelling of his name.

First 'Tim Hammon' appeared on the news conference board, swiftly followed by 'Tim Hemmon.'

The Brit admitted he would give himself "not much more than five out of 10" for his performance, but paid tribute to his opponent's quality of serve and solid play from the baseline.

"We shouldn't be surprised by the fact he won. Novak is a world class player and he's been in the world's top 10," he said.

"I've lost a little bit of rhythm in my game and that's something I need to get back," he said, referring to his recent return from a back injury.

"I played the last two tournaments in the States and I didn't feel particularly comfortable out there, but I am healthy now.

"I haven't played that great in the last few weeks, but I have played some good tournaments this year. I just need to get back on the practise court and work on starting to feel good about my game again.

"I have to make sure that I am fit for the US Open."

He added: "I won a silver medal in 1996 so I know the importance of winning in the Olympic Games. I am very disappointed. Marks out of 10? No more than a five."

Novak, meanwhile, said he was proud to win for the Czech Republic.

"I played a great match today," he added.

"It was very hard to play against Tim, it was very windy. But I played a lot of rallies from the baseline and I did not make many mistakes. That was the key.

"For 35 weeks of the year we play for ourselves, but to win here at the Olympics for my country makes me very proud."



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