Henman and Krajicek upset, Ferreira advances
by Ed Toombs
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 1999
Jim Courier def. Tim Henman (4), 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4
Head to head: Courier leads 2-1
Much was expected from this match, the high-profile encounter of the day, and it did not disappoint.
Henman and Courier had previously split two memorable five-set marathons this season: Courier prevailing in Davis Cup and Henman triumphing at Wimbledon. These two have something of a rivalry going. Even though Henman was coming off a bad loss in Los Angeles to Guillaume Raoux (who continued his fine play today by knocking off Magnus Larsson), and although Courier is not always present mentally for some of his matches on the tour, it figured that neither would want to lose round three of their season series.
Henman got off to a very slow start, and was not a factor in the first set. Tim thought that his rustiness was a factor -- "I've only played one match in a month" -- whereas Courier, without the benefit of a first round bye, had a match under his belt from yesterday. Indeed, the Brit was flat-footed in the opening set, serving poorly, not volleying crisply and making repeated forehand errors. Meanwhile Jim was making strong statements with his backhand return and buffeting "Timbledon" around the court with his powerful forehand groundies, sometimes following them to the net and converting with solid volleys.
But you knew with these two a long match could not be avoided. Henman finally started producing some of the slashing, attacking tennis he plays when he is "on", and the match tightened up in the second set. After an early exchange of breaks, the two held serve until 6-6. The second set tie-break was knotted at 3-3 when Courier chose the poorest of times to go on a rampage of four consecutive unforced errors to allow Henman to level the match. Courier said after the match, quite rightly, that he "played sloppily" when he had a chance to close out the win at this stage.
The deciding set produced the best tennis of the match, as both players, determined not to lose in the latest chapter of their budding rivalry, pulled out all the stops before an appreciative crowd. It was all-court tennis, Jim and Tim employing both net play and baseline rallies (nothing new for Henman, but these days Courier is approaching the net more often than he has in his career). The only break came in the final game, when Henman was in the always-dicey spot of serving at 4-5 to stay in the match. Courier announced his intention to do some damage on the first point of this game, when he blasted a scalding forehand passing shot that clipped the line and was celebrated with a whoop and fist pump by the American. Another superb forehand pass set up match point for Courier, which he converted into victory with a blazing crosscourt return winner.
In view of his heartbreaking loss to Henman at Wimbledon, this was an immensely satisfying win for Courier, who was in loquacious good spirits in his press conference. "I thought I should have won that match at Wimbledon and it is nice to come through in the end this time rather than letting it slip away." As for Henman? "I'm not disappointed,"said the Englishman. "I got off to a slow start, began to turn it around, but couldn't finish the job off. I don't like losing at the best of times, but the place I am at right now is that I need to continue practising and hitting a lot of balls."
Next up for Courier: a third-round meeting with either Jan-Michael Gambill (who beat up a nervous local wild card, Jocelyn Robichaud, 6-0, 6-0) or Wayne Ferreira (winner over Mark Woodforde: see below).
Wayne Ferreira (17) def. Mark Woodforde, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6)
Head to head: Ferreira leads 5-0
This was an immensely entertaining match in front a large and appreciative crowd on court one. Many of them might have been waiting for the Bjorkman/Rafter doubles match (see Chris Gerby's report), but what the heck. Ferreira, seeded by virtue of Lleyton Hewitt's injury withdrawal, won for the sixth time in as many matches over the veteran Aussie, but Woodforde put on a determined and intelligent fight, had a match point which he could not convert, and with a few breaks might have pulled off an upset.
The match was intensely disputed between these two redheads from the southern hemisphere, yet with fair-play and good humour. In the second set, when the Aussie lost his racquet wile sprinting to his right, Ferreira jokingly pose at the net for several seconds in a volley position, waiting for a shot he knew would never come. And in the third set, when Woodforde fell heavily on his right knee in an attempt at a diving volley, Ferreira rushed with concern to Mark to check on his condition. Fortunately, Woodforde shook off the pain and no injury was apparent.
Ferreira and Woodforde battled for 2 hours and 10 minutes on even terms: Wayne with his pleasing all-court game and sweeping forehand drives (I've never figured out why he stands so far behind the baseline, though), and Mark, looking remarkably spry for a 33-year-old geezer, with his useful serve, volley, and patented slow motion slice backhand.
In the third set Woodforde had a match point with Ferreira serving at 5-6, 30-40. Mark looked to chip and charge, but pushed his normally reliable slice backhand well wide. The South African went on to hold serve, and the tie-break was to decide the issue.
Ferreira started the tie-break nervously, and his errors allowed Woodforde to jump to a 5-3 lead and seemingly take an option on the match. But at this point Dame Fortune was in Ferreira's corner: his forehand hit the top of the net and trickled over, well out of Woodforde's reach. Given new life, Ferreira played two strong points to take a 6-5 lead, and a match point on Woodforde's serve. The Aussie saved it with a deep, kicking second serve that Ferreira could not handle. But the reprieve was momentary. At 6-6 the elder Woodie netted a forehand approach setting up a second match point for Ferreira. This time was the charm for Wayne, and when Woodforde committed another error, a forehand into the net, an excited Ferreira leapt in the air to celebrate a hard-fought 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6) win.
Ferreira's next opponent will be Gambill, the winner of the match to face Courier in the third round.
Du Maurier Late Night
Sébastien Lareau def. Richard Krajicek (5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4
Head to head: Krajicek leads 1-0
In perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament so far, local boy Sébastien Lareau, ranked 116, took out the world's number 7, and 5th seed, Richard Krajicek, in front of a partisan pro-Lareau late night crowd. It was the third win over a top ten player in the 26-year-old Canadian's career, as he had beaten Stich in 1994 and Corretja last year. But Lareau called this win over Krajicek at his home tournament, the one he calls "my Wimbledon", "the biggest of my career."
Truth be told, Krajicek is not only rusty, but slumping by his standards. Since a good first three months of 1999 which saw him win tournaments at London and Key Biscayne, the big Dutchman has not reached a single semifinal. And his last match was over a month ago at Wimbledon, a disastrous third round loss to the eminently forgettable Lorenzo Manta.
Krajicek's big weapon is his serve, and it was only hovering around the 50 % mark during this match. Lareau was worrying Krajicek all night with his excellent backhand return, probably Sébastien's biggest weapon. And the rest of Krajicek's game was good, but not enough to worry an inspired Lareau. Already in the first set Lareau had four break points, but Krajicek served and volleyed solidly to stave them off. Meanwhile, the Dutchman converted on one of his two break points in the fifth game of the opening frame. This break was all Richard needed to close out the first set.
In the second set the local hero fought on, and finally broke the Dutchman in game four. But "Kraj" answered with a break of his own in game seven on a forehand winner, and a tie-break was called for. Canadian fans are used to seeing Lareau crack in these pressure situations, but he was playing confidently, and it was Krajicek who stuttered, double faulting on set point to give Lareau a 7-4 tie-break win and the second set.
The third set was high drama in front of the screaming local fans. It would have been higher drama if not for a brief rain delay earlier in the match that thinned the crowd by about half. The players stayed on serve until 4-4, when Lareau tilted the match in his favour. At 30-30 Krajicek's serve was met with a splendid inside-out backhand return, setting up break point for Lareau. He cashed in on a dramatic nose-to-nose net exchange that ended if Krajicek netting a reflex forehand volley. The hometown faithful stood and roared, as Lareau was about to serve for the match at 5-4.
Lareau closed it out, but not without some drama. He needed four match points to do the job, as Krajicek come up with some solid returns and passing shots to stave them off. Finally on the fourth match point Lareau dealt his opponent a solid serve down the middle that Krajicek returned over the end line, and it was over: 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-4. Sébastien, cooler under pressure than I have ever seen him in this match, blew kisses toward the stands to thank his happy supporters.
After the match, Lareau gave credit for his upset win to... Pete Sampras! Sort of. Lareau has played Sampras twice in recent weeks -- Wimbledon and Los Angeles -- and had reasonably good success returning Pete's serve. "Playing Pete helped," said the Canadian. "Richard has a harder serve, but it's not as accurate and easier to read. So I felt I had a chance."
Next for Lareau: either Max Mirnyi or Thomas Johansson, so he's assured of facing another big server in the third round.