| Tim Henman after winning the ATP Washington Classic on Sunday. Henman beat Fernando Gonzalez 6-3, 6-4. (Reuters)
Washington: Britain’s Tim Henman, finding form for the first time since shoulder surgery last November, broke a 19-month title drought by winning the ATP Washington Classic on Sunday.
Henman defeated fourth seed Fernando Gonzalez of Chile 6-3, 6-4 to capture his tenth career crown. The 38th-ranked Briton won his first ATP title since Adelaide in January 2002.
“It has been a difficult time for me with the injury. Now I feel like I have put that behind me,” Henman said. “In the last two months, my game has really improved. In all honesty, it has worked a lot better than I expected.”
Henman, who lost six of his first eight matches this year, faced a similar drought in 2000, losing seven finals in a row over two years before beating Germany’s Tommy Haas in Vienna to snap the skid.
“I remember being so uptight before that match in Vienna,” Henman said. “I almost wanted it too badly and put too much pressure on myself. That probably affected my form.
“I wanted to treat this as I had before and it paid off. Because my game has improved, that’s the best I’ve felt all week. Internally there was a lot of confidence in my performance.
“It has been a while. I wasn’t mentally and physically 100 per cent late last year,” he said. “You are probably looking back to Toronto last year. That’s the satisfaction from this win.”
Henman, 28, won $74,250 at the $600,000 hardcourt tune-up for the US Open, which begins in three weeks. Henman might not defend his crown next year, when this event is opposite the Athens Olympics. “I would like to do both,” Henman said. “It’s a long way off. I will have to see what happens.”
French Open quarter-finalist Gonzalez, who turned 23 last Tuesday, reached his first ATP hardcourt final and first final of the year after winning titles on clay in 2000 at Orlando and last year at Vina del Mar and Palermo.
“I felt a little slow,” Gonzalez said. “Tim played well. He surprised me a lot. He played a really good match. I didn’t play my best.”
Henman broke Gonzalez twice for a 4-0 lead in the first set and in the opening game of the second set, never letting the ball-bashing South American gather confidence.
“He started 4-0 and I wasn’t on the court yet,” Gonzalez said.