Tim Henman crashed out of Wimbledon on Thursday in his second five-set thriller in two days. Having battled from two sets down against Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in his first round match, Henman was expected to improve against the relatively inexperienced Russian, Dmitry Tursunov, ranked 152.
In the first set, it looked like Henman would move through without too much bother. But having won the set 6-3, he then struggled. Tursunov’s centre court nerves evaporated, he broke Henman’s serve in the second set, and the match became another tense affair.
While Henman tried to surge ahead, his opponent frequently pulled himself out of trouble with aces and winners. The fifth set suddenly swung Tursunov’s way as he broke Henman to lead 5-4, and had two match points on his serve, but a few nervous passing shots and some chip-and-charge gambles from Henman squared the match.
At 6-6 Henman was broken again, and Tursunov served for the match for a second time. He sealed the match with an ace, winning 3-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 8-6.
The defeat was Henman’s earliest exit from Wimbledon since 1995. Since 2001, his last semi-final appearance, the great British hope has complained that the courts and balls have become slower, reducing the effectiveness of his serve-and-volley game.
His defeat meant that the emerging youngster Andrew Murray is the only British player left in the main draw.