The season finale of the ATP Champions Tour continues at Royal Albert Hall in London this week. Champions Tennis 2015 got into high gear on Wednesday with British legend Tim Henman highlighting the night with a win over American James Blake.
Six players from the ATP Champions Tour are taking part in the season-ending event at Royal Albert Hall in London, England. The six players have been split into two groups. Group A finds four-time Wimbledon semifinalist Tim Henman along with American James Blake and Morocco's Youness El-Aynaoui. Group B is comprised of last year's champion Fernando Gonzalez, Belgian Xavier Malisse and Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean. Each group will go through a round robin stage with the winner of each group advancing to the final on Sunday. The matches are played similar to doubles on the regular ATP World Tour. The winner needs to win two sets, so if the first two sets are split, the match is deciding in a super tiebreaker or Champions Tie Break. That tie break goes to the first player to get to ten points and win by at least two.
Henman Takes Early Lead In Group A
Tim Henman helped usher in play for this year's finale with a 4-6, 6-2, 12-10 win over James Blake. The two had played just once before back in 2002 where Henman also won. Blake secured the opening set on Wednesday with the only break of serve in the tenth game. Henman would strike back with some trademark volleying in the second set to even the match. The Brit would show great nerve in the Champions Tie Break as he fended off three match points before rallying for the win.
Group B Lead Goes to Gonzalez
Chilean Fernando Gonzalez set up his title defense at this event in fine fashion on the opening day. Gonzalez edged Xavier Malisse 7-6, 6-4 to grab the first win in the group. Gonzalez is now set to battle Sebastian Grosjean on Thursday. A win over Grosjean would sew up a spot for the Chilean in Sunday's final. Gonzalez and Malisse entered the event tied for fourh in the ATP Champions Tour rankings from the regular season along with James Blake.
The event will also feature a series of Legends exhibition matches headlined by seven-time Grand Slam Champion John McEnroe. Johnny Mac is scheduled to take part in an exhibition match against Mats Wilander on Thursday night. The two battled eleven times in their careers on the ATP World Tour with the Swede winning six of those matches. That does not include perhaps their greatest match though, a 1982 Davis Cup quarterfinal match that went on for six hours. McEnroe outlasted Wilander 9-7, 6-2, 15-17, 3-6, 8-6 to give the Americans the win in the fifth and final rubber of that tie. They are sure to put on another entertaining display in London.