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Henman vs. Ivanisevic On Ice; Lendl Forced To Withdraw

Statoli Masters Tennis

Henman, Ivansevic© Getty ImagesTim Henman and Goran Ivanisevic played tennis on an ice rink Wednesday in London.

Tim Henman began his Statoil Masters title defense in style in London on Wednesday by beating Thomas Enqvist at the Royal Albert Hall, only a few hours after clashing with Goran Ivanisevic on an ice rink!

Henman, who beat Enqvist in last year’s final to win his first ATP Champions Tour event, won 6-7(4), 6-3, 11-9 (Champions’ Tie-Break). Earlier in the day, in preparation for his Saturday night clash with Ivanisevic at the Winter Whites Gala, Henman and his old rival took to the ice rink at the Natural History Museum.

"I think it would be pretty quick playing on this (ice)!,” said Henman. “It’s great to be back in London, the Statoil Masters is such a fantastic event. There’s a lot of amazing buildings and architecture in London and the Royal Albert Hall is very, very special so I always look forward to getting back out there."

Elsewhere, Fabrice Santoro got off to a winning start against Mark Philippoussis, winning a stunning first set tie-break 14-12 before triumphing 7-6(12), 6-3.

In the Legends group, Mats Wilander won a thriller against Pat Cash. He triumphed 4-6, 6-3, 10-6 in a Champions’ Tie-Break, but admitted it was just as tough as the score suggests.

"At the end of that first set I was nervous believe it or not!” said Wilander. “I choked a bit and then suddenly he had won the first set 6-4. It felt good though.

“I love this court. It's great for serve and volley because the ball stays low with a slice serve and kicks up high with the kick serve so we should see some great tennis this week.

"It's amazing that on a Wednesday afternoon, two 48-year-olds are playing tennis in front of a pretty much packed house in the Royal Albert Hall. That's the beauty of this event and the Royal Albert Hall, it's special.

"It's fun to get a win. We all play to compete, we all play to play well and we all play to have fun, and if you do get a win that's even more fun. But as a tennis player it's always one match at a time and at our age it's one morning at a time."

HIP AND KNEE INJURIES FORCE LENDL TO WITHDRAW

Ivan Lendl has been forced to withdraw from the Statoil Masters Tennis event, because of injuries to his knee and hip.

Lendl was due to make his debut at the tournament, which is now in its 16th year, and despite giving himself as long as possible to be fit, he was forced to admit defeat. He will be replaced in Group A of the Legends tournament by Guy Forget of France.

“I am very disappointed that I will not be fit enough to play in the Statoil Masters Tennis in London,” said Lendl, who now coaches Britain's Andy Murray.

“I have been looking forward to playing in the tournament all year having heard so much about it. For now I will concentrate on fixing and rehabilitating my knee and hip but I hope to be able to play at the Royal Albert Hall in the future.”

Lendl’s withdrawal means that Forget will now face John McEnroe on Friday night and Jeremy Bates on Saturday afternoon. On the ATP Champions Tour, some of the matches between Forget and McEnroe have been electric affairs. One match in Dublin saw a frustrated McEnroe put his foot through an advertising hoarding. He then swiped a matching hole in the advertising board on the other side of the court. In their careers before retirement, they played four times, winning two apiece.

The rest of the Legends tournament features 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, former World No.1 Mats Wilander, ever-popular Henri Leconte, and former British No.1 Jeremy Bates.

In the ATP Champions Tour event, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis, Carlos Moya, Fabrice Santoro and Thomas Enqvist will do battle.

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