Last Brit Henman crashes out of Wimbledon

Tim Henman served up another Wimbledon epic on Centre Court on Thursday but this time neither his fighting spirit nor a boisterous home crowd could keep his Championship dream alive.

Tim Henman served up another Wimbledon epic on Centre Court on Thursday but this time neither his fighting spirit nor a boisterous home crowd could keep his Championship dream alive.

After a topsy-turvy tussle lasting three hours and 17 minutes, Henman departed with a wistful wave after a 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 2-6 6-1 defeat to the world-ranked 78 Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

Having done the hard work in clawing his way back from two sets down to force the 13th All England Club fifth-setter of his career, Henman flopped in the decider and with him went the host nation's last singles representative from the draw.

To the credit of former quarter-finalist Lopez, he shrugged off the disappointment of losing two sets in succession and produced a virtually flawless final set, which he wrapped up with a flashing cross-court backhand at the net.

Both players had served strongly in the opening two sets, but Lopez's nerves held best as he charged through the first tie-break 7-3, and clinched the second 7-5 having repelled a Henman fightback from 5-0 down in the breaker.

But the Centre Court crowd had come to expect the customary twist from Henman, who had survived an epic five-setter stretching over four hours to win his first round match against Carlos Moya.

Henman pushed their belief to the brink when he dropped his opening service game of the third set, but responded in spectacular style by punishing Lopez's serve for the first time to break twice in succession.

Having served out to take the set with aplomb, Henman was well on top, as the Lopez serve began to crumble and self-belief clearly became a problem for him.

Briefly, tantalisingly, it looked like the Henman of old in the fourth set, as he rounded off a thoroughly dominant passage of play with a delicious lob to level the match at one set all.

But the momentum swung in the fifth set, for which Henman had to be strongly favoured having won nine of his previous 12 of his All England Club final set encounters.

Lopez restored confidence by serving out in the opening game to love, then attacking the Henman serve and being rewarded with the first break.

Brimming with belief of his own, Lopez rediscovered his booming serve of the first two sets and began to punish Henman's faltering play.

A second break, after Henman had netted the simplest forehand volley which would have kept him in the match at least temporarily, hushed the home crowd and ended contest, and with it home interest for another year.

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