Enqvist takes Henman

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 14, 2000

The Associated Press

MASON, Ohio – Winning at Tennis Masters Series-Cincinnati has Thomas Enqvist eager to compete in the U.

Monday, August 14, 2000

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MASON, Ohio – Winning at Tennis Masters Series-Cincinnati has Thomas Enqvist eager to compete in the U.S. Open.

”I think it’s realistic for me to say that I have a chance to win a Grand Slam,” Enqvist said Sunday. ”Winning this event is as close as you can get.”

Enqvist became the first Swede in 10 years to win the Cincinnati tournament, beating Tim Henman 7-6 (5), 6-4. He moved up five spots to eighth in the ATP Champions Race and is the No. 4 seed at this week’s RCA Championships at Indianapolis.

”It’s important for me to get a lot of matches before the U.S Open,” Enqvist said. ”But also mentally for me to win this kind of tournament is as close as you can get to win a Grand Slam. And I’ve been showing myself I can win this three times, so why not at the U.S. Open this year?”

Henman, whose only lapse was in the first-set tiebreaker and the first game of the second set, thinks he has a chance, too. He beat Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras and French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten en route to the title match with Enqvist.

”I think it’s fair to say I’ve beaten everyone now, and I know that I can beat anyone on my day,” Henman said. ”That gives me confidence. I wouldn’t say I’m the favorite going into the Open, but one of the outsiders.”

Enqvist’s win Sunday turned on two crucial points in the tiebreaker and the only service break in the 1-hour, 48-minute match.

”It was an extremely close match,” Enqvist said. ”In the first set, he was the better player. I was lucky to get through it.

”But I came up with some very good shots when I needed them, and I think my second set was probably my best set of this tournament. I played extremely well.”

Enqvist is the first Swede to win the $2.95 million tournament since Stefan Edberg in 1990, when it was known as the ATP Championship.

Henman was the first British player to reach the final at Cincinnati.

in 23 years. However, the loss was his seventh in a row in a championship match since winning his last ATP Tour title in October 1998.

”I can look back on this match and unequivocally say that Thomas won the match, I didn’t lose it,” Henman said. ”I’ve never served as well as I have this week.”

The win was Enqvist’s first this year, but his 17th tour title since turning pro in 1991.

”I knew Tim was going to come to the net, and I knew I had a good second serve,” Enqvist said. ”I was able to pass him good when he came to the net.”

Henman had success all week with the tactic and stayed with it against Enqvist, who likes to play from the baseline.

”It’s been working for me so well, so I think I would have been stupid to try and play differently,” Henman said.

He stymied Sampras by moving up on his second serve, but Enqvist didn’t let him do that.

”I like to play people coming into the net, and Tim is good at it,” Enqvist said. ”But you have to be on top of your game to have a chance to win, and I think that’s what I did today.”

In the tiebreaker, Henman double-faulted at 5-5. He also double-faulted in the first game of the second set.

The top-seeded Australian team of Todd Woodbridge and Mark Woodforde won the doubles title, beating third-seeded Ellis Ferreira and Rick Leach 7-6 (6), 6-4.

It was the 62nd doubles title for the Woodies, who have won 26 consecutive matches and eight titles this season, including Wimbledon and the French Open.