At Tim Henman's most brilliant moments Monday, the Duke of Kent, watching from the royal box at Centre Court, jumped to his feet and joined fans in the wave. At his worst moments, legions of Henman fans buried their heads in their hands, unable to watch as their hero frittered away one match point after another in his fourth-round match against Australia's Mark Philippoussis.
Tagged for years as the nice guy with great skills and no killer instinct, Henman, 29, ultimately prevailed over the hard-serving Aussie, 6-2, 7-5, 6-7 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), to advance to Wimbledon's quarterfinals, where he'll meet Croatia's Mario Ancic. The victory touched off a frenzy of Henmania in the stands, as well as on so-called "Henman Hill," where fans exulted in the possibility that their beloved "Tiger Tim" may yet win his first Wimbledon in his 11th successive appearance in the tournament.
Henman played near flawless tennis in the first two sets and was on the brink of sending Philippoussis packing in straight sets, up 5-2 in the third with two match points. Philippoussis fired a monster serve to save one point; Henman sprayed the ball long from the baseline to squander the second match point. And it unraveled from there.
The crowd fell silent as Philippoussis stormed back to take the set in a tiebreaker. Henman's parents looked on stone-faced, as did his wife. With the match spilling into a fourth set, the British Broadcasting Corporation pushed back its nightly airing of the popular program "Eastenders" in order to follow play to completion.
"There is a lot of tension, absolutely. You can feel it in the crowd," Henman explained with a smile afterward, asked why he had put fans through such angst. "But the only thing I can control is what I'm going to do. If I were to, you know, be too concerned with what everyone was feeling, then my job would be even harder."
Federer, Roddick Win
With the rains holding off, all of the men's fourth-round matches were completed Monday. Defending champion Roger Federer, who has yet to lose his serve in the tournament, dismissed Ivo Karlovic, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-5), and appears to be gliding to the final again. Odds are he'll meet American Andy Roddick, who blew past Germany's Alexander Popp, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. Roddick hit 70 percent of his first serves in and didn't double fault once, but credited the victory to his improved service return.
To get to the final, Federer will have to get past Australia's Lleyton Hewitt, who ousted Carlos Moya, 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3). Federer and Hewitt are the only former Wimbledon champions remaining and are scheduled to meet in a quarterfinal match Wednesday. . . .
The tournament is bracing for a logistical mess Tuesday evening, when a 24-hour strike is expected on the London Underground.