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Original Issue

Home Court Disadvantage

With his win over Mark Philippoussis on Monday, 29-year-old Tim
Henman sent the English rite of masochism known as Henmania into
overdrive. He also threatened to end one of tennis's most curious
streaks. No Briton has won a Wimbledon singles title since
Virginia Wade in 1977, just as no true French player has won at
Roland-Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983 (the Canadian-born Mary
Pierce, who won in 2000, was raised in the U.S.) and no Aussie
has won in Melbourne since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

Meanwhile, Americans have won those Slams and owned the U.S.
Open. Why? The huge U.S. population is an advantage, but the
consensus is that habitual American success, coupled with the
sport's low profile in the U.S., erases all pressure but the
personal. A U.S. tennis player ranked No. 6, as Henman is, could
never be a vessel of national pride. As Paul Annacone, Henman's
coach, puts it, "People in the U.S. don't give a s--- about you if
you're ranked sixth in the world. You go big or you go
home." --S.P.