TENNIS: Henman to speak out on future

Herald Series:

Oxfordshire's Tim Henman is to clear up speculation about his future on Thursday - following reports that he is set to announce his retirement.

A reports in The Times suggested the 32-year-old, who lives at Aston Tirrold, near Didcot, will call time on his career following Great Britain's Davis Cup clash with Croatia, which starts on September 21.

The British No 2, who hails from Weston-on-the-Green, near Bicester, was staying tight-lipped about his plans yesterday.

But he released a short statement which read: "Because of the recent press speculation I will be holding a press conference in New York ahead of the US Open at 11am (4pm UK time) on Thursday to discuss my plans for the remainder of 2007."

He has won just three tour matches this year and has been struggling with fitness problems - the latest of which is an ongoing back complaint that ruled him out of the Pilot Pen event in New Haven.

But, using his official website to discuss his recent travails, he denied that he had lost any hunger for the game.

He said: "I still really enjoy practising and training and also playing matches, it's just frustrating that my body has struggled to cope with what I've been asking it to do in the past couple of years.

"Having a family has certainly changed the way I look at the world and also to a certain extent my priorities in life, but I would not go so far as to say that it has diminished my hunger for the game.

"I was also planning to play in New Haven this week, but I had to pull out because I'm having a few problems with my back.

"I'm not fully fit, so my focus at the moment is to try to get my back sorted out and then to take it from there."

Lawn Tennis Association chief executive Roger Draper had earlier responded tentatively to reports in The Times that Henman had set a date for his departure from the sport.

But he conceded that the player was close to the end.

Draper said: "Jan Felgate, who's his agent, has basically said there's no official confirmation.

"But it's clear his career will end sooner rather than later.

"Tim's his own man. He's always made his own decisions.

"He may fancy one more shot at Wimbledon next year and only time will tell."

Henman, a four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist who also reached the last four at the French Open in 2004, once had a world ranking of four in July 2002, but injury and loss of form have seen him crash to 92nd.

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