STATOIL MASTERS TENNIS
Rafter Sets Henman Final
Pat Rafter set a Statoil Masters Tennis final with Tim Henman after defeating Goran Ivanisevic 7-6(5), 6-4 to win Group B.
“Tim’s a great fellow,” said Rafter, who had a 3-2 record over the Briton on the ATP World Tour. “The last time we played in London (Wimbledon fourth round 1998), he kicked my butt. We’ll go out there, have fun, go hard at each other and hopefully put on a good match.
“I haven't seen Timmy play for a while, but I hear he's better at golf than tennis now. That bodes well for me.”
In a rematch of the 2001 Wimbledon final, Rafter produced what he claimed was his best ever serving display. With Henri Leconte chiming in from the courtside boxes during a sponsor suite visit, Rafter found a winning forehand return to gain the edge in the first-set tie-break and clinched the opener with an ace.
Rafter raced into a 4-0 lead in the second set, with Ivanisevic calling on advice from spectators to combat the Aussie’s purple patch. The Croatian clawed his way back to 5-4, but Rafter closed out victory.
“It’s weird, I don’t think I was playing that well on the tour 12 years ago,” said Rafter. “I would have won a few more matches if I'd played like that! I was really happy with how it went. I can’t ever remember serving that well. I wish I knew what the secret was to that when I was playing! I moved well, returned well. I can’t play any better than that.”
Ivanisevic said, “He served unbelievable. I’ve played him so many times on tour and he never served like that. He was just too good. It was really enjoyable to play and lose against a guy like that.”