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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 May, 2004, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
Henman earns epic win
Tim Henman
Tim Henman staged an astonishing recovery to beat France's Michael Llodra 6-7 (2/7) 4-6 6-4 6-3 9-7 and reach the French Open quarter-finals.

The ninth seed lost the first two sets, but repeated his first-round heroics and battled back to force a decider.

He again flirted with danger when he delivered three double faults at 4-5 and was forced to save a match point with an inspired pass.

But he finally broke at 7-7 and held his nerve to seal a remarkable win.

The 29-year-old next plays Juan Ignacio Chela in his first Grand Slam quarter-final away from Wimbledon.

In terms of the atmosphere and the drama, that ranks pretty high
Tim Henman

Henman is also the first British man to reach the last eight at Roland Garros since Roger Taylor in 1973.

But his chances looked all but over when he surrendered the first two sets against Llodra, a doubles specialist and wildcard entry.

Facing a player with a similar game to his own, Henman lost the aggression which served him so well in the previous two rounds.

He managed to take the first set to 6-6 after Llodra had served for it, but a double fault in the tiebreak proved crucial and the Frenchman took it easily.

Henman made a horror start to the second set, dropping serve immediately, and could not recover.

I certainly didn't play my best but just to win a match of that nature is a very, very positive thing
Tim Henman

Sensing a famous upset, the Roland Garros crowd erupted when Llodra broke for a 3-2 lead in the third but a battling Henman hit straight back.

And the Frenchman chose 4-5 to deliver his poorest service game of the match to give Henman a glimmer of hope.

The Briton, who came back from two sets down against Cyril Saulnier in the first round, gladly took it and forced a decider after producing his best tennis of the match in the fourth.

And victory looked secure when he broke early in the fifth to silence the crowd and leave Llodra deflated.

As is so often the case with Henman's matches, the drama was not over.

Llodra produced a string of inspired winners to break back and then found himself with a match point at 6-5.

But Henman shrugged off the earlier double faults and saved it with a brave passing shot.

Llodra appeared to have finally run out of inspiration and three more stunning passing shots gave Henman the vital break at 7-7.

The British number one calmly served out to love, and managed only a clenched fist in celebration as he walked to shake hands with Llodra.

Afterwards, he described coming through such a match as "character-building".




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC Sport's Jonathan Overend
"Henman finally saw off the magnificent challenge of Llodra"


Tim Henman
"He was the one playing very aggressively at the start"




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