LONDON, December 2, 2015
Former British No. 1 Tim Henman overcame James Blake 4-6, 6-2, 12-10 to kick off the Champions Tennis 2015 in exhilarating style at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday.
The meeting between the two former World No. Fours was only their second ever, with the first coming more than 13 years ago in Toronto, a match won by the Briton in straight sets. The long-awaited re-match did not disappoint, as the clash of styles produced by baseliner Blake and serve volleyer Henman resulted in some breathtaking rallies.
Blake drew first blood, clinching the opening set with a single break of the Henman serve. But the 41-year-old Henman struck back decisively, delivering some delectable volley winners to seal the second set and force a deciding Champions Tie Break, in which the Brit saved three match points before surging back to steal victory.
The thrilling conclusion to the match can be seen here.
Henman now sits atop Group A, while defending Champion Fernando Gonzalez has placed himself in poll position in Group B after defeating Belgian Xavier Malisse 7-6, 6-4 earlier in the day.
Another highlight of Wednesday’s play at the Royal Albert Hall was the appearance of British Davis Cup hero Jamie Murray. The Scotsman was welcomed onto court for his opening doubles match crowd by a standing ovation from the Champions Tennis crowd, who were then delighted to see him reunited with his miniature replica Davis Cup winner’s trophy, which had originally been presented to him in Ghent on Sunday.
Murray then took to the court partnering fellow Davis Cup Champions Mats Wilander in a doubles exhibition match against Henri Leconte and Magnus Larsson.
On Thursday, Gonzalez faces Sebastien Grosjean in the afternoon, and then John McEnroe makes his return in the evening against fellow seven-time Grand Slam champion. Mansour Bahrami will also return, along with the 1987 Wimbledon Champion, Pat Cash.
Grosjean v Gonzalez
Cash/Larsson v El Aynaoui/Leconte
McEnroe v Wilander
Bahrami/Malisse v Henman/Pernfors