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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Henman Finally Breaks Jinx Against Sampras

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MASON, Ohio — Unwilling to spoil 15th-seeded Briton Tim Henman’s biggest career victory, Pete Sampras gave credit to his close friend on beating him 6-3, 6-4 Thursday night in the third round of the Tennis Masters Series-Cincinnati.

"He definitely outplayed me in just about every area," said Sampras, who was given nonaspirin pain tablets for soreness by ATP Tour trainer Bill Norris early in the second set. "I kind of let it slip away a little bit. He got on a great roll and was just too good."

A jubilant Henman had come close in six previous outings against Sampras, including two four-set semifinal encounters at Wimbledon, but never was successful before.

"It’s definitely very satisfying and it’s been a long time coming," said Henman. "We’ve had some very close matches. I knew this match was right there for the taking."

A gracious Henman acknowledged that it was not Sampras’s best day, but made note that "against Pete you need all the help you can get."

Sampras was the fourth marquee name to depart the Cincinnati tournament Thursday, with Russians Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin, and 16th-seeded Mark Philippoussis of Australia losing earlier in the day.

The quarterfinal pairings will be Henman against Fabrice Santoro of France, fourth-seeded Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil against Todd Martin of the United States, seventh-seeded Thomas Enqvist of Sweden against Fernando Vicente of Spain and 13th-seeded Franco Squillari of Argentina against Arnaud Clement of France.

There was no denying that while Henman cut a perfect figure on the court, serving proficiently and consistently hitting winning passing shots, Sampras was not in peak form.

Sampras, who recently won his seventh Wimbledon trophy for a record-breaking 13th Grand Slam title, appeared a step slow during the one hour, 17 minute match. His serves lacked their normal punch and precision, his groundstrokes were sailing just beyond the lines, and his volleys were not crisp.

"I just didn’t really find a rhythm on it," Sampras said. "He was on top of it early. I wasn’t really picking corners, wasn’t hitting it that well. It wasn’t the best serving day."

The second-seeded Sampras initially seemed destined to take a seventh career victory over Henman when he broke serve in the first game of the match.

Nevertheless, once Henman recouped the break in the sixth game, he went on to win 12 of the next 13 points to win the set.

In the second set, Henman had two break points on Sampras in the opening game, but had to wait until a second break point in the fifth game to take the service break that led the Briton to victory.

Kafelnikov, a two-time Grand Slam champion who reached the Australian Open finals in January, played with little energy in his 6-4, 6-1 loss to Clement.

The fifth-seeded Russian said he was suffering from fatigue after playing two night matches and doubles before playing his match Thursday afternoon.

Scheduling became a bigger problem for Kafelnikov because of the long rain delay Wednesday night that led to his finishing his match after midnight and having only five hours of sleep.

"In general, today and the last couple of days were long days and I was feeling tired," said Kafelnikov. "I went to bed at 3 o’clock and had to get up at 8 o’clock and was a little bit tired.

"It was tough to come back and play as competitively as I had to."

After winning his first Tennis Masters Series event last week in Toronto, Safin, the No. 8 seed, struggled to find his form against Santoro in a 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) defeat.

Although Philippoussis posted the only service break of his two hour, 12 minute match against Vicente in the fifth game of the first set, he was unable to power his way to victory in the two remaining tiebreaker sets.

"I didn’t make him play at all on each serve," said Philippoussis. "There was no pressure on him pretty much.

"You know, that would have been a good one to sneak out because I didn’t play that well."