posted on Jun, 27 2004 @ 12:32 PM
Tim Henman revelled in the atmosphere of 'People's Sunday' as he booked his place in the fourth round of Wimbledon for the ninth year in a row.
Cheered on by a partisan crowd who had queued for the 11,000 tickets on sale, Henman beat Morocco's Hicham Arazi 7-6 6-3 3-6 6-2 on Centre Court.
The British number one recovered from 2-0 down in the fourth set to win the next six games and will now face last year's beaten finalist Mark
Philippoussis in the last 16 on Monday.
"It was tough,"
Henman told BBC Sport.
"He was playing some really good tennis and making life difficult for me. The quality of the tennis wasn't always great but you've got to find a
way to win those matches."
Henman had lost his last encounter with Arazi in an intimidating Davis Cup atmosphere in Morocco, but this time the Briton could not have had more
support. The vociferous Centre Court welcome left even the vastly experienced Henman looking slightly taken aback.
"It's a phenomenal atmosphere,"
"I can understand how it's difficult to organise but I'd like one every year. When you get the chance to play in that atmosphere it's
Having struggled for periods in his opening two matches, the Briton looked even more uncertain on serve against the talented Arazi. At 6-5 down in the
first set tie-break he needed a reassuringly firm volley, a service winner and a spectacular lob to get himself out of trouble.
"As soon as I hit the lob I was praying it wouldn't go wide but I was pleased to get the breaker under my belt,"
From 4-2 down in the second set Henman upped his game again to break twice in succession, but with the two-set lead came a lapse in concentration. He
immediately fell 3-0 behind in the third and quickly lost the set, and when Arazi moved a break up in the fourth Henman's game looked to be
Fortunately for the Briton, Arazi was having almost as much difficulty maintaining his focus. And with the crowd's support undoubtedly playing a part,
the aggressive Henman resurfaced to take six straight games and seal a last-16 place.
"I need to play better but I've given myself a chance,"
said Henman of his clash with Philippoussis. "I fancy my chances."