TIM Henman began his three-day goodbye to professional tennis in the perfect manner as Great Britain moved within touching distance of the Davis Cup World Group.

The 33-year-old, playing in what could yet be the final singles match of his 14-year career, swept aside Croatia's Roko Karanusic 6-4 6-3 6-3 to put his country 2-0 up in the best-of-five play-off on Wimbledon's Court 1.

There were glimpses of vintage Henman against the world number 164 - arguably enough to give him second thoughts about retirement.

Henman had been scheduled to play Ivan Ljubicic but Croatia's number one became his country's third high-profile absentee when he suffered a recurrence of a kidney stone complaint.

Despite having won all his previous six Davis Cup singles rubbers on grass, Henman will have been privately relieved at being spared a meeting with the world number 12.

Ljubicic - who may yet play tomorrow and Sunday - had won the last four of their five matches, with Henman's sole victory coming five years ago.

However, the former world number four received an early warning not to take understudy Karanusic lightly.

He was forced to save two break points in his opening service game, a wake-up call that appeared to have the desired effect as Henman then broke himself for a 2-1 lead.

Despite failing to sparkle, that proved enough for him to see out the set 6-4.

The second followed a similar pattern, Henman securing the sole break with a backhand down the line in the fifth game to run out a 6-3 victor on his second set point.

It was beginning to look ominous for 25-year-old Karanusic, with Henman never having lost a Davis Cup rubber from two sets up.

The Croatian had also played only one previous Davis Cup rubber - a defeat two years ago - to Henman's 52.

Henman then began to demonstrate the all-court game that helped make him a top-five player, accurate groundstrokes and low volleys helping him break for a 3-1 lead in the third set.

That soon became 5-1, with Karanusic all but conceding his next service game.

Serving for the match, Henman treated a packed Court 1 to a typical wobble, as if to remind them what they will soon be missing.

However, it only delayed the inevitable as Henman wrapped up the win in his next service game.

Henman is now expected to play tomorrow's doubles alongside Jamie Murray, though it remains to be seen whether there will be one final fling should Sunday's singles matches prove dead rubbers.

This afternoon's win followed a five-set thriller between Andy Murray and Marin Cilic, which the Scot eventually came through 3-6 6-4 6-2 4-6 6-3.