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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 July, 2003, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Henman: Battler, not bottler
Henman is second behind only Sampras on recent Wimbledon records

By Matt Majendie

Once again, Tim Henman has raised the hopes of a nation desperate for a British winner at Wimbledon.

His passage into the quarter-finals for the seventh time in eight years has seen his odds cut to 9/1 to be the first British male to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

And once again, the British public find their expectations rising - with an almost masochistic anticipation at being let down when he is ousted in the latter stages.

POINTS GUIDE
Winner: 10pts, Runner up: 8
Semis: 6, Quarters: 5
Fourth round: 4, Third round: 3
Second round: 2, First round: 1

Headlines of "choker" and "bottler" are waiting for Henman once again.

But even if Henman does fall before the final hurdle once more, the fact is he still boasts one of the finest recent records in SW19.

Here, we compare him to the other grass stars since 1996 when he first reached the quarter-finals, awarding points for performance based on round reached.


Pete Sampras
Wimbledon best: Winner 1993-5, 1997-2000
Points since 1996: 51
1 Pete Sampras

Sampras' Wimbledon record is second to none. The American has won the singles title seven times.

In 1996 he made it to the quarter-finals before notching up four wins in a row on the hallowed turf.

In the last two seasons he has failed to match the young guns, losing out in the fourth round and in the second round respectively.

In eight years, between 1993 and 2000, he lost just one match out of 54 as he claimed seven titles.

And the American, whether he opts to retire or not, remains the greatest grass court player of all time.


In his dreams? Henman would love to win the trophy
Wimbledon best: Semi-finals, 1998-9, 2001-2
Points since 1996: 38
2 Tim Henman

From the moment Henman reached the quarter-finals of the 1996 Wimbledon championships, he has carried the hopes of the nation each summer.

Pundits and peers alike each year hail the British number one as one of the great contenders on grass.

And few can deny he has the game suited for the surface.

He is one of the few remaining natural serve-and-volleyers on the men's tour.

But one major factor stands against the Briton - he has never reached the final at Wimbledon and has crumbled when a handful of good opportunities have arisen.


Pat Rafter
Wimbledon best: Runner-up, 2000-1
Points since 1996: 34
3 Pat Rafter

Rafter has since retired from the game but the friendly Australian was a regular feature of the tournament.

The big-serving Aussie only ventured as far as the fourth round from 1996 to 1998 but shone for the subsequent three years.

In 2000 he reached the semi-finals before ending up in the final in both 2000 and 2001.

Both times, he failed at the final hurdle, losing in four sets at the first attempt to Pete Sampras before being defeated 9-7 in the final set against 2001 winner Goran Ivanisevic.

Like Henman, he is plagued by choker accusations after missing out in two finals.


Goran Ivanisevic
Wimbledon best: Winner, 2001
Points since 1996: 30
4 Goran Ivanisevic

Since 1996 few of the Wimbledon specialists have had a more volatile record at SW19 than the big-serving Croat.

During that time, he has been beaten in the final, the quarter-finals, the fourth round and the second round, as well as losing at the first hurdle in 2000.

But his piece de resistance came in the unlikeliest circumstances when given a wildcard for the 2001 championships after recovering from long-term injury problems.

Remarkably his frail frame managed to stay together for the entire tournament, climaxing in stunning wins over Henman in the semi-finals and Rafter in the final.

In between matches, he entertained everyone with his "good Goran, bad Goran" press conferences.

His big serving was arguably his greatest asset, as he fired down ace after ace at tournament after tournament.


Andre Agassi
Wimbledon best: Winner, 1992
Points since 1996: 25
5 Andre Agassi

The then long-haired Agassi took the title in 1992 but since 1996 has failed to enjoy quite the same level of success.

First and second-round exits in 1996 and 1998 respectively showed the Las Vegan was not entirely comfortable on grass.

But he flourished in three subsequent years, despite playing from the back of the court.

He was runner-up to Pete Sampras in 1999 and made the final four the following two years.

Unlike all of the names above, Agassi has never been a natural player on grass, instead preferring Grand Slams such as the Australian Open and the US Open.





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