Monday, August 14, 2000

Enqvist makes name for himself with title

Swede stops Henman in Masters Cincinnati final

By Michael Perry
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thomas Enqvist shows off his trophy.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
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        MASON — Thomas Enqvist is 26, not old enough to be considered one of the grizzled veterans on the ATP Tour, not young enough to be lumped in with the up-and-comers. All of which allows him to slip into tournaments without much fanfare. Until, of course, he wins.

        The Swede, seeded seventh, captured the Tennis Masters Series Cincinnati championship with a 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory Sunday over No. 15 seed Tim Henman.

        Enqvist, who won his 17th title and collected the biggest paycheck of his career ($400,000), capped a steady week in which he dropped just one set — and that was in the first round.

        He won his last 11 sets. His serve was never broken Sunday.

        “When he had a break point or it was an important point, I came up with a really, really strong shot,” Enqvist said. “That's what I'm most happy about.”

Tim Henman
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Henman, 25, could not capitalize on seven break points throughout the match. In the first game of the second set, he lost his serve for the first time since the first game of his third-round victory over Pete Sampras.

        The first set Sunday came down to who made a mistake at the wrong time. It was Henman. At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, he double faulted. Enqvist then served out the set.

        Henman, in his first Masters Series final, is now 4-11 in career finals and has lost his last seven. The Englishman earned $211,000.

        “I can look back on this match and sort of unequivocally say that Thomas won the match; I didn't lose it,” Henman said.

        One streak continues for Cincinnati: No player seeded lower than seventh has ever won the title.

Enqvist wins the final point.
(Gary Landers photo)
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        Enqvist is the first Swede to win this tournament since Stefan Edberg in 1990.

        He did it by winning the first eight points of a second set he called “my best set in this tournament.” He did it with 12 aces and pinpoint passing shots. He did with with consistency, poise and confidence.

        “Tim was playing really well in the first set,” Enqvist said. “He was maybe the better player. I was a little bit lucky to get through that first set, I think. But I came up with some very good shots when I needed to. I played extremely well.”

        In his previous tournament, he had to retire during a third-round match in Toronto because of a floating bone chip in his right foot. Enqvist said it didn't hurt this week — though he expects to have surgery at the end of the year.

        Enqvist has finished the year in the top 10 three times since 1995, including a career-high fourth in '99. The only years he didn't were 1997, when he injured his left ankle and missed two months, and 1998, when he had surgery on his right ankle in August. Those two years, he still finished in the top 30.

        If Enqvist is not better known, it may be because of his showings in Grand Slam events. The only time he got past the quarterfinals in one of the four major events was in 1999, when he was runner-up to Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the Australian Open.

        Of course, he also keeps a low profile.

        “I like it this way,” he said. “I'm here to play tennis; that's what I like to do. And it's perfect.”

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