Henman, Murray hold home court

Updated: June 21, 2005, 6:20 PM ET
Associated Press

WIMBLEDON, England -- The British crowd at Wimbledon was twice as happy as usual Tuesday.

Not only did Tim Henman come back from two sets down to beat Jarkko Nieminen of Finland, but wild card Andrew Murray also reached the second round by overcoming George Bastl of Switzerland.

Henman, a four-time semifinalist at the All England Club, beat Nieminen 3-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Centre Court. Murray, an 18-year-old from Scotland, easily topped Bastl 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.

Another British hope, Jonathan Marray, lost to Xavier Malisse of Belgium 6-3, 3-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4. Malisse reached the semifinals here in 2002.

On the women's side, Jane O'Donoghue pumped her fist after coming back to beat Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany 1-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Both Henman and Murray received wild cheers from the local fans, who have been waiting for a British man to win Wimbledon for almost 70 years. Fred Perry was the last, in 1936.

Each time Henman came close, he lost to the eventual champ in the semis -- twice to Pete Sampras and once each to Goran Ivanisevic and Lleyton Hewitt.

But after two sets Tuesday it looked like Henman would exit in the first round for the first time since his debut in 1994.

"I'm never going to lie down in any event," Henman said. "But here at Wimbledon, with the record I've had and how much I enjoy playing, I had to do something.

"It's a good one to get through."

The 70th-ranked Nieminen, who was married a week ago, knew what to expect against Henman.

"Playing Henman on Centre Court is no place to have your honeymoon," Nieminen said.

Murray has been designated as Henman's heir apparent. He won the U.S. Open juniors title last year and reached the semifinals of the junior tournament at the French Open this year.

Tuesday marked his Grand Slam debut.

"I was a little bit nervous when I woke up this morning. But I think I was more excited than anything else," Murray said.

He had little trouble with Bastl on Court 2, where the Swiss made history three years ago by beating Pete Sampras in the second round in the seven-time champion's last match at Wimbledon.

"The courts were nice and slow, which I quite like, but I was still getting enough on my serve," said Murray, who broke Bastl in the ninth game of the first set.

Murray said he didn't mind the hype surrounding him, much like it has surrounded Henman for the past 10 years.

"I suppose it's OK," Murray said. "It's a little bit over the top because I still haven't really done anything.

"I think there's a lot of good players in Britain ... but, obviously, my results have been the best out of the lot of them. So everybody's going to say that I am the new hope."

Not all the fans are so anxious to see Murray replace Henman as the country's best hope.

"Please don't burden him with that yet," said Sue Jackson from Nottingham, who was on Henman Hill to watch the action on a giant television.

"I always try to watch Tim but it's always been on the TV, this is my first time to Wimbledon," Jackson added.

David Sherwood and Greg Rusedski won Monday while four other British men lost. The remaining six British women lost on the first two days of the competition.

The last British woman to win the title was Virginia Wade in 1977.

Tips For Sharapova
Nine-time Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova thinks Maria Sharapova should stop courting publicity and concentrate on tennis.

Navratilova said Sharapova had underperformed since winning Wimbledon last year. The second-seeded Russian dominated Nuria Llagostera Vives in the first round at Wimbledon on Tuesday, beating the Spaniard 6-2, 6-2.

"People say she has become irascible and irritable in interviews but she should remember that if she hadn't won Wimbledon, people would not fawn over her as much," Navratilova wrote in a column in The Guardian newspaper Tuesday.

"If you don't back it up -- and Maria has not -- people lose interest."

Navratilova doesn't believe in the "part athlete, part model" philosophy also shared by Serena Williams, a two-time Wimbledon champion.

"You can't have two careers," she wrote. "You shouldn't chase the money, you should chase the potential in yourself. If she doesn't defend her title here, she becomes just one of the top-10 players of the past 12 months. If she wins, though, it's huge: She's defended her title and that's a great achievement."

Knee Pads
Ball boys and girls at Wimbledon are getting extra help this year -- knee pads.

"Last year we ended up taking out a batch of championship cushions for them to kneel on," Wimbledon ball boy/girl deputy manager Brain Morris-Thomas told The Times. "But the cushions were affected by the wind, so we've had a pad devised that they can wear to give them more comfort."

There are 210 ball boys and girls at this year's Wimbledon.

Not Forgotten
Fred Perry was the last British man to win Wimbledon in 1936 -- and his presence still remains at the All England Club.

When the three-time champion died in 1995, his ashes were placed under a statue of himself near one of the entrances. Now the statue and the ashes have been moved to allow work to start on the retractable roof over Centre Court. The roof is scheduled to be ready for 2009.

The ashes were moved to a safe at the Wimbledon Museum.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press