Henman rallies to reach quarterfinals

Oct. 24, 2002 at 8:17 PM
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BASEL, Switzerland, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Top seed Tim Henman continued defense of his Swiss Indoors crown Thursday with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Nicolas Escude of France in the second round of the indoor event.

Henman is trying to become the first player to win consecutive titles in Basel since Stefan Edberg did so in 1985-86 and the second to win this event three times.

"I was pretty lucky today," he said. "(Escude) was up a set and a break, it didn't look pretty.

"I wasn't playing my best tennis and he was playing extremely well. I wasn't getting frustrated, I was hanging in there. It's amazing how quick a match can turn."

The 28-year-old Englishman, who became a father for the first time last Saturday, has played sporadically since losing in the third round of the U.S. Open in August.

"It's a good thing to have played a difficult match and to have come through it," he said. "I still think I need to improve. It's probably a matter of match practice."

Sixth seed David Nalbandian of Argentina will be Henman's quarterfinal foe Friday. Nalbandian had a 6-2, 3-0 lead against Agustin Calleri, before his countryman retired with right shoulder tendinitis.

It is the second time since his surprise runner-up effort at Wimbledon that Nalbandian has won two matches in a row. He was a quarterfinalist at the Tennis Masters event in Canada.

"It's very nice for me to be in the quarterfinals," Nalbandian said. "My game was very solid today. I knew he had some shoulder problems but I forgot it before the match. I remembered it again when he was starting to serve slower."

Second seed Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain dispatched French qualifier Nicolas Thomann, 6-4, 6-2. Ferrero is fourth on the ATP Champions Race and is close to qualifying for the elite eight-man field for the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai.

"It's pretty close, everyone has to play well this week," said Ferrero, the French Open runner-up. "It's very good for me to be in the quarterfinals, I'm closer than last week. If I win tomorrow my chances are good. The Tennis Masters Cup is a big goal for me."

Ferrero is 4-0 against his quarterfinal opponent, countryman Felix Mantilla, who was a 6-1, 7-6 (7-2) winner over Switzerland's Ivo Heuberger.

"I'm very satisfied with the way I'm playing," Mantilla said. "I'm playing with more motivation than earlier. Today I played aggressive on his forehand, which paid off.

"It's very important for me to be in the quarterfinals in Basel. Tomorrow I will do my best to go even further."

Third seed Roger Federer of Switzerland beat Alexander Waske of Germany, 6-3, 7-6 (7-1). He will play fifth seed Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals Friday.

Roddick, who had a four-match losing streak heading into Switzerland, defeated James Blake, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3.

Also, seventh seed Fernando Gonzalez of Chile bested Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), and France's Arnaud Clement cruised past Romanian Adrian Voinea, 6-3, 6-4.

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