Video of the Week: Tim Henman vs Juan Ignacio Chela @ Roland Garros 2004 Quarter FinalPosted: January 15, 2012
This edition of Video of the Week takes us back to the 2004 French Open, and a very peculiar Quarter Final featuring Tin Henman and Juan Ignacio Chela, two players who had never previously gone beyond the third round at Roland Garros.
Both men exceeded expectations by reaching the second week of the French Open. Henman was certainly not out of place in a the draw of a Grand Slam quarter-final – he had been to the semis at Wimbledon four times and was unlucky not to reach the final – he was, though, a grass court specialist who struggled with the movement on clay and had never showed signs of adapting his serve and volley game to the surface. Chela is perhaps less of a surprise to see at this stage of Roland Garros; clay is his favourite surface and this his best Grand Slam, and with a fortunate draw he was able to make the second week. The surprise factor comes simply as he is a limited player, a journeyman who never really threatened the top rank of players and lacked the flourish of even a Henman – calibre player.
Onto the encounter itself, a convincing 6-2 6-4 6-4 victory for Henman. He routed Chela thoroughly, outplaying him both at the net and at the baseline. Henman was at the very pinnacle of his game; the volleys were outstandingly crisp and accurate, his groundstrokes deep and consistent and even the passing shots were on form.
Most of all Henman played an intelligent match. He took advantage of the movement problems associated with clay by constantly wrong footing Chela with drop volleys and short slices – he cleverly brought Chela outside of his comfort zone at the baseline and passed him at the net with surprising ease.