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Anorak | Tiger Earns His Stripes

Tiger Earns His Stripes

by | 10th, September 2004

‘NO hill. No Sue Barker. No HRT. And no cries of “Come on, Tim”, “Go on, Tim” and “Shhhhhh!!!” as he’s about to serve. No cheering as his opponent makes an unforced error.

‘Grrrrr!’

And yet despite of – or because of – the lack of Henmanic activists, the boy wonder, England’s No.1 tennis player for the past millennium and more, Tim Henman, has reached the semi-finals of the US Open.

The Independent was in New York to see the tiger defeat Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty in a mere four sets.

Henman now faces the dubious honour of what he calls the “biggest task in tennis right now”, namely how he’s going to defeat Roger Federer in tomorrow’s match.

The Times does give Henman some hope and shows how, over the history of showdowns between the pair, Henman leads by a margin of six victories to one.

“I’ve beaten him a few times in the past and I hope I can do it again,” says Henman in the Telegraph

“The important thing is that I’ve remained pretty relaxed on court. Let’s see what happens on Saturday.”

Yes, let’s see. And let’s hope that right now 5,000 men and women from Middle England with painted faces aren’t getting ready to board planes to New York and cheer our Tim on.

He seems to play better and do better when his legion of fans leave him alone.

Not that the Henmaniacs are being as quiet as the England football team, who are pictured on the back of the Sun with plasters superimposed across their mouths.

Thankfully, others have much to say about the players’ decision not to talk to the press.

And the one who has most to shout about is Graham Taylor, the former England manger whose bon mots have given us some of the most hilarious moments in football.

Having laughably told its readers that the paper’s move to brand Taylor a turnip was “part and parcel of football’s rich tapestry”, the Sun is ready to hear from the great man.

“Nobody likes criticism, that’s obvious – and being called a turnip wasn’t nice,” says football’s best-loved root vegetable.

“But if your answer is to hide away and not talk, your critics have won. The best reply is always to stand there and argue your own case?”

Like a human being.

“There is a simple answer. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Nobody makes you look at it. I didn’t realise for five days that I’d been called a turnip because I hadn’t seen the Sun.”

Or understood why replacing Gary Linker with Alan Smith in a must-win match was inviting a good roasting – with all the trimmings…’



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