Paradorn sets up Henman clash in Paris

2nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 1 (AFP) - Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan set up a Paris Masters second round showdown with defending champion Tim Henman after beating Argentina's Mariano Zabaleta 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in his opening match on Monday.

PARIS, Nov 1 (AFP) - Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan set up a Paris Masters second round showdown with defending champion Tim Henman after beating Argentina's Mariano Zabaleta 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 in his opening match on Monday.

Paradorn, playing in his 30th tournament of the year, struggled to make headway on the Zabaleta serve in the opening set taking just five points off the last four service games of the Argentine.

But he was the cooler of the two in the tie-break when a succession of loose forehands from the 50th ranked South American handed the Thai the set after 46 minutes.

The Asian number one gained the vital break in the fifth game of the second set when Zabaleta, who had never won a match in three previous visits here, could only push a fierce backhand return wide.

Paradorn wasted two match points in the 10th game but made no mistake with his third as his seventh ace whizzed past a flat-footed Zabaleta.

Third-seeded Henman holds a 6-1 career record over Paradorn.

However the Thai is hoping that with the Briton having already made it through to the Masters Cup in Houston next month, courtesy of Andre Agassi and David Nalbandian's withdrawals on Monday, the defending champion might be tempted to take his foot off the gas.

"He's made it through to Houston so the pressure is off him. Maybe he won't be trying too hard," said Paradorn.

The 25-year-old Paradorn, a semi-finalist here in 2002, is bidding to finish the year in the top 20 for a third successive season.

He went into the Paris event standing at 26 after starting the year at 11 in the world.

He won his only title of the year, and fifth of his career, when he took the Nottingham grass court tournament in England in June and then carried his country's flag at the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympics.

Despite the EUR 2.45 million prize money here, the Paris Masters is missing five of the world's top ten with Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, Carlos Moya, Guillermo Coria and David Nalbandian sitting out the event with a variety of bashes and bruises.

But Paradorn said it would take a major injury to prevent him from taking part in a Masters event.

"Most of them have qualified for the Masters Cup so they want to protect their injuries but for me this is one of the best tournaments that we play.

"This game is our profession. You only have a period to play and you can have a good rest once you've finished your career."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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