Although we're ultimately all waiting to see who will hold the championship trophies at the close of two weeks in Flushing Meadows, there are always smaller victories in major tournaments that refuse to be ignored. These moments are unexpected yet undeniable.
And so it was that Britain's Tim Henman came into this U.S. Open with plans to retire before the end of the year. He has made a career out of unexpected moments, whether as an unlikely French Open semifinalist or annually shouldering the hopes of an entire nation. At his best, Tim hovered just below the most elite players, making the most of his talents and, if anything, overachieving as he repeatedly pushed his way into contention at Wimbledon in the heart of the Pete Sampras era. But as soon as he turned you into a believer, as soon as it seemed his time had come, Tim Henman would do the unexpected once again: he'd lose.
When the draw for the U.S. Open was announced, Henman was faced with the daunting task of playing nemesis Dmitry Tursanov. Tursanov had beaten Tim in five of six encounters going into the match, including multiple defeats at major events. No one outside of the man himself gave Henman much of a chance to advance out of the first round of the final Grand Slam tournament of his career ... and that's just how Tim has always liked it. Overshadowed by an afternoon schedule that was packed with star power, Henman summoned vintage form and emphatically overcame his opponent, his aching back, and his 32 years.
Henman dismissed Turnsanov in four sets, pushing the young troublemaker aside like so many of the crisp volleys that he angled away for winners during his outstanding career. Whether or not Henman can continue to win is irrelevant. As he prepares to face 22-year-old Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the next round, it's clear that the new generation is here and Tim's game has gone out of fashion. But for one last afternoon in New York, at least, Tiger Tim roared again. --Wyman Meers