Massu, Koubek, Nalbandian also advance

Originally Published: October 29, 2004
Associated Press

BASEL, Switzerland -- Jiri Novak made Tim Henman's life as miserable Friday as he did at the Olympics, toppling the second-seeded player 7-6 (5), 7-5 in the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors tournament.

"I just decided to play the same tactics as at the Olympics," said the unseeded Novak, who ousted Henman in the opening round in Athens the last time they met. "I was hitting pretty hard from the baseline and attacking at the net. I played solid tennis.

"I was serving well. I knew I could break him anytime," he said.

In the semifinals, Novak will play Stefan Koubek, who posted his third impressive victory in a row. He defeated Ivan Ljubicic 2-6, 7-5, 7-5.

Also advancing to the semifinals were seventh-seeded Nicolas Massu, who ousted Bohdan Ulihrach 6-2, 7-6 (4), and No. 4 David Nalbandian, who took sixth-seeded Rainer Schuettler 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

The victory Friday marked a stunning reversal for Novak, ousted last week in the second round of the Madrid Masters.

For Henman, the 1998 and 2001 champion here, the defeat could mean trouble securing a berth in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup next month in Houston.

Five of the eight places in that field have already been locked up with Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya and French Open champion Gaston Gaudio guaranteed spots.

Henman, who has been taking supplements for a magnesium deficiency that sapped him in Madrid last week, is fighting Guillermo Coria, Marat Safin, Andre Agassi and Nalbandian for the other berths. The field will be filled after next week's Paris Masters.

"It's a bit premature to start thinking about how I feel heading to Paris," said Henman, the defending champion there. "Of course it gives me confidence with the way I played there last year but with so many points at stake for everyone, you never know what's going to happen."

Novak and Henman traded breaks in the opening set but Henman never seemed in control. Down 6-2 in the tiebreak, he saved three consecutive set points but eventually surrendered with a flapping wide forehand. The second set was close until Novak, leading 30-40 at 6-5, was vaulted into the semis of the $1.25 million tournament when Henman sent another forehand wide.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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