Henman to face Murray

The apparent changing of the guard in British tennis will be put to the test on Wednesday when long-standing number one Tim Henman takes on rising star Andrew Murray in the first round of the Davidoff Swiss Indoors tournament in Basle.

This will be the first meeting of the pair, who have enjoyed contrasting fortunes this year. Henman, 31, has slumped out of the world's top 10 rankings to 28 as injuries have taken their toll, while Murray, 18, has surged upwards from 411 to 70.

Last month, the teenage Scot said graciously that he did not expect to become British number one until Henman had retired from the sport.

However, he knows victory over Henman would provide further evidence that he is destined to follow in the illustrious footsteps of the number one, who has won 11 singles titles and reached six grand-slam semi-finals.

Henman has won only three matches since his shock second round loss to Dmitry Tursunov at Wimbledon and a back injury has caused him to hint at possible retirement. But Murray has gone beyond the first round in all five of the top-level tournaments he has played since making his mark so memorably at the All England Club, including reaching the Thailand Open final.

The winner of the all-British encounter will play Tomas Berdych or George Bastl in round two. Murray's fellow Scot Alan Mackin has also reached the main draw in Basle as a lucky loser following the withdrawal of world number two Rafael Nadal because of a knee injury. He meets Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.

*Rafael Benitez, Liverpool's manager, has taken drastic action to try to end his team's disastrous domestic form.

He demanded a change of attitude from his players, made them train and then watch a video less than 24 hours after Saturday's defeat at Fulham. The European champions lie 13th in the Premier League.

Instead of resting senior players, many of them will play in Tuesday night's Carling Cup tie at Crystal Palace as Benitez says he is "looking for solutions".

Reserve captain David Raven, 20, will play - probably in place of Josemi at right-back after the Spaniard's poor display at Fulham - and reserves Zak Whitbread and Darren Potter will also be involved. But the fact he is even considering playing Steven Gerrard, who has recovered from a shin injury, suggests Benitez wants answers to Liverpool's poor away form in the Premiership.

Benitez said: ''We all know we need to change the attitude, particularly after European games. On Sunday we all spoke and watched the match again.

''The performance of the team was bad in terms of the aggressiveness of the players. We had a lot of the ball and controlled the play but we didn't show enough until the second half."

He added: "Palace is a similar place to Fulham. It's a difficult stadium and we expect a physical game."

*Real Madrid are considering an appeal against the red card given to David Beckham for applauding a referee sarcastically. Referee Dauden Ibanez sent the England captain off during Madrid's 2-1 home defeat to Valencia on Sunday after he had clapped in response to being booked.

Ibanez wrote in his post-match report that ''Beckham was behaving in a mocking way after being reprimanded".

Real said: ''The judicial services of Real Madrid are analysing the video of the game along with various photographs to show David Beckham's actions in no way were an act of disrespect toward Dauden Ibanez."

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Genoa have opened a match-fixing investigation into Italian league games last season.

The investigation is focusing on seven matches, including the Rome derby between AS Roma and Lazio in May that ended 0-0. Italian newspapers have published alleged phone transcripts of conversations between players discussing that game. The inquiry is being led by the same court that opened proceedings against Genoa, who were found guilty of fixing their final match against Venezia last season to guarantee promotion to Serie A.

*Brian Noble, Bradford and Great Britain rugby league coach, has defended his club's decision to pull winger Lesley Vainikolo out of the New Zealand squad for the English leg of the Tri-Nations Series.

A row between the two countries erupted ahead of the game between them at Loftus Road, west London, on Saturday when the New Zealanders discovered Vainikolo had entered hospital for knee surgery. Vainikolo, who scored 34 tries for the Super League champions this year, was also prevented from playing against Great Britain in last year's tournament because the club booked him in for post-season knee surgery.

''It's pretty disappointing because this has happened in the past," said New Zealand coach Brian McClennan. ''What we need is a chance for our doctor to assess the player so there is no dispute between New Zealand and the club. Les probably does need surgery but, if we were able to look at it, it would remove any assumptions of unfair play."

New Zealand suspicions were fuelled by Noble's dual role. But the British coach said: ''He's been carrying the injury for a few weeks and that's why it was important to get it rectified.

"Anybody who knows me realises I push people to play international football, whether they're Australians, New Zealanders or Brits. If there was any possibility we could have allowed Lesley to play, he would have played."

*Formula One will switch to a knockout qualifying system next season with tyre changes also making a return. The International Automobile Federation (FIA), the sport's governing body, said the measures had been approved at a meeting of the Formula One Commission, which includes all the 10 teams, in London.

Qualifying will take place in three phases, with five cars dropping out after a first 15-minute session and another five after a second stint. The remaining 10 will then fight for pole in a 20-minute final session. The current single-lap format, with each car running alone against the clock, has been much criticised.

An FIA proposal for a new rear wing concept, designed to facilitate overtaking, also won the support of teams for 2007 subject to further input from their technical directors.

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