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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Henman Ends British Tennis Misery

LONDON -- British tennis was a joke for so long that bookmakers offered shorter odds on aliens landing at Buckingham Palace than on a Brit winning a Grand Slam tournament.


That was before Tim Henman came along.


A sensational start to the 1997 season has established the 22-year-old Henman as the hottest player on the tour and a legitimate contender at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year.


British bookmakers Ladbrokes on Monday slashed the odds on Henman winning the title to 16-1, down from 66-1 at the start of last week. Henman is now ranked No. 14 in the world, the highest for a British man in 20 years.


"He is playing at the top of his form and with Boris Becker out it seems to us that only Michael Chang provides a major obstacle to Henman reaching his first Grand Slam final," Ladbrokes spokesman Ian Wassell said.


Henman is on course for a third-round match against second-seeded Chang.


"We already face a ?100,000 ($170,000) payout if Henman wins the Australian Open, and I dread to think what it would cost if he were to win Wimbledon," Wassell said.


No British male has won at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.


It was at Wimbledon where Henman made his breakthrough last year by reaching the quarterfinals. He also got to the quarters of the U.S. Open and the semifinals of the Grand Slam Cup.


Before the 1997 season started, Henman said his goals for the year were to win his first ATP Tour title and break into the top 20. It didn't take him long to achieve both.


Henman started the year by reaching his first ATP Tour final in Doha, Qatar, where he lost to Jim Courier. The following week, he won the Sydney International, beating Goran Ivanisevic in the semifinals and Carlos Moya -- the man who ousted Becker -- in the final.


The Sydney victory pushed Henman from No. 24 to No. 14 in the latest tour rankings, the highest for a British player since 1977.


The only Brit to achieve a higher ranking was Roger Taylor, who got to No. 11 in 1973, the year the ATP rankings were introduced.


"The next obvious [goal] is to try to break into the top 10 and that's not going to be easy in itself, but if I can continue with the way I've been playing and my work on and off the court, then hopefully I can do that,'' Henman said Monday.


Henman's rise has been a boon for Britain's tennis writers, who cover the sport around the world but rarely get a chance to report on a British player getting past the first round.


In Monday's Daily Telegraph, tennis correspondent John Parsons wrote that watching Henman win the Sydney International marked a personal milestone. It was the first time in 32 years of traveling around the world, covering tennis, that he had seen a British player capture a men's singles title.awks (6-8), who scored 20 points off five Buffalo turnovers.


The Seahawks drove Bills quarterback Jim Kelly from the game with six sacks and 12 knockdowns.


Cowboys 10, Cardinals 6. At Arizona, Michael Irvin caught eight passes for 198 yards, including a 50-yard third-quarter touchdown from Troy Aikman that rallied the Dallas Cowboys to a 10-6 victory over the Cardinals (6-8).


Dallas limited Arizona to a pair of Kevin Butler field goals as the Cowboys (9-5) assumed first place in the NFC East with a one-game lead over Washington and Philadelphia.


Jaguars 23, Oilers 17. In Houston, Natrone Means ran for 67 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Mike Hollis booted three field goals as the Jacksonville Jaguars remained in playoff contention with a 23-17 victory over the Oilers.


The Jaguars improved to 7-7 with their third straight win.


The Oilers lost for the third time in four games to fall to 7-7.


Giants 17, Dolphins 7. In Miami, the Dolphins failed to live up to coach Jimmy Johnson's victory guarantee with a 17-7 loss to the New York Giants (6-8) that took Miami (6-8) out of the playoff picture.


Giants quarterback Dave Brown engineered two first-half touchdown drives.


Buccaneers 24, Redskins 10. At Tampa Bay, Trent Dilfer threw a touchdown pass and Michael Husted kicked three field goals to lead the Buccaneers to a 24-10 victory over the reeling Washington Redskins.


Errict Rhett ran for 97 yards and Mike Alstott had eight rushes for 67 yards and one TD for the Bucs (5-9), who have won four in a row at home for the first time since 1982.


The Redskins (8-6) lost for the fifth time in six games after a seven-game winning streak.


Bears 35, Rams 9. In Chicago, Rashaan Salaam ran for two touchdowns and Dave Krieg rushed for a score and passed for another to propel the Bears to a 35-9 victory over St. Louis (4-10).


Salaam rushed for 115 yards on 19 carries for the Bears (6-8), who kept their very slim playoff hopes alive.


Bengals 21, Ravens 14. In Cincinnati, Jeff Blake hit tight end Tony McGee for a one-yard touchdown with 3:09 remaining and the Bengals made a successful goal-line stand in the final seconds for a 21-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens (4-10).


The Bengals (6-8), improved to 5-2 under new head coach Bruce Coslet.


Falcons 31, Saints 15. In New Orleans, Bobby Hebert passed for 198 yards and three touchdowns against his former team as Atlanta (3-11) handed the Saints (2-12) their seventh straight loss, 31-15.


Hebert completed 20-of-29 passes, including scoring strikes to Mitch Lyons in the first quarter, Eric Metcalf in the second and Bert Emanuel in the fourth.