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Saturday, 23 February, 2002, 17:53 GMT
Henman eases into Rotterdam final
British number one Tim Henman
Henman on his way to a third Rotterdam final
Tim Henman cruised into the final of the Rotterdam World Indoor ATP tournament with a straight sets victory over Croatian Ivan Ljubicic.

Henman's opponent in the final will be the defending champion Nicolas Escude, who came through an all-French clash against Sebastien Grosjean 4-6 7-6 7-5.

The British number one had few problems with the big-serving Croatian, breaking once in each set to win 7-5 6-4.

Henman, seeded sixth, will now appear in his third final at the Rotterdam tournament after reaching the last two in 1999 and 2000.

It's going to be a tough match tomorrow as I am so tired
Nicolas Escude

"I'm delighted with the result. Hopefully it will prove to be third time lucky for me.

"I've worked hard this week and taken advantage of the way the draw has opened up but I'm not finished yet," Henman told his personal website.

The Briton put Ljubicic under pressure from the start, earning breakpoints in the third and fifth games.

Although Ljubicic served himself out of trouble with his booming serve, Henman attacked relentlessly from the net.

And Henman's perseverance paid off at 5-5 when two winning cross court volleys and a superb backhand down the line captured the break.

Escude winning streak

The world number 11 served out the set in the next game.

The Croatian kept pace in the second until the ninth game, when a double fault and two unforced errors handed his opponent three break points.

Ivan Ljubicic was a surprise name in the last four
Ivan Ljubicic's big serve did not trouble Henman

Having saved the first two with aces, Ljubicic hit a simple cross court wide to hand Henman the break and the match.

Escude, who survived three match points against fourth seed Grosjean, extended his Rotterdam winning streak to nine matches.

"I was very very lucky today," said Escude. "It's tough when you play a friend and I'm really tired.

"It's getting really difficult and I'm now playing on my confidence and not physical ability."

Escude has beaten Henman in four of their five previous meetings, including a straight-sets victory in the second round of the Rotterdam tournament last year.

"It's going to be a tough match tomorrow as I am so tired," said Escude.

"Tim finished his match in the afternoon while it's late night now but hopefully I will get a good night's sleep."

David Law reports for BBC Sport
"This was a slick performance"
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