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September 1, 2001

Xavier Malisse

NEW YORK CITY, X. MALISSE/T. Henman 6-7, 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Congratulations, by the way, on a great win.


Q. Where does this come in terms of your favorite wins in the last, say, year or so?

XAVIER MALISSE: I think because of the crowd and the way the match went and how long it was, I think would be the number one. Not just because of the win, just because we played five great sets and nobody gave up and we hung in there. I would say this is the best experience of my life.

Q. How big a part has David Felgate played in helping you the way you played today?

XAVIER MALISSE: David's helped me tremendous. Not just for this match, but also before. And, you know, he knows a lot about Tim, of course. But I was still playing my game. Because if I get too many tips, you know, I won't be playing my own game. So, you know, he told me to go out there and play my game. Just, you know, be aware of a couple of things. And, you know, it helps. But, you know, the whole match was just -- it was good. We, you know, I did what David told me to do - not always, but tried to.

Q. How difficult was it for you to come back?

XAVIER MALISSE: Yeah, I missed a passing shot. I'm gonna make some, gonna miss some. I was a little bit disappointed. (Inaudible). I got back in it and played well. Started returning better and, you know, the whole match, even at 3-0 in the fifth, I told myself I wasn't gonna just leave it like this, you know, after fighting about three hours and 40 minutes. So I know I could return his serve and, you know, I played two great games to break him.

Q. You said that David mentioned a couple of things for you to be aware of. What were they in particular?

XAVIER MALISSE: Well, you know, he serves more down the T. You know, all these things. When you're on the court, it's hard to just think about that and, you know, I know also how Tim -- just serve and volley, just chip and charge. But, you know, just David being out there in the stands helps a lot, too.

Q. There were two or three times where you looked angry and like you were about to explode. Did you control yourself? Was that something you were proud of?

XAVIER MALISSE: Yeah. I think I had my experience this week on Monday. No, there were two times where I could have gotten angry. But then you just, you know, that's where you learn from Monday. And I think if I would have gone nuts, probably it would be over any time. So I hung in there. You know, it's maybe a game or so that I wasn't really concentrated. But it's better getting the whole match.

Q. Was it strange at first when the match started? Obviously, the conditions were a bit tricky with the wind and everything like that. Was there an element of nerves on both sides of the net, do you think?

XAVIER MALISSE: Probably. I thought when I came on the court I was a little nervous. I thought the court looked smaller and all that stuff. But I think he, you know, was a little bit nervous too, because he hit some double-faults in the beginning. But you probably think about it in the first six, seven games. But once you, you know, start playing game after game, you just start playing your own tennis.

Q. Last year you were here, and you'll have to forgive me, but you were a little bit of a footnote to somebody else's story, to Jennifer's story. What's happened from this year to last year, besides you broke up?

XAVIER MALISSE: I think I took my life under control. I started working harder. I'm starting to believe in myself. I knew I had the talent, you know, the strokes and stuff. But at that time, I didn't have it mentally. And, you know, I started the year with just leaving everything behind, starting a new page. And, I mean, it worked. I won a lot of matches in the beginning, even I had to play quallies. I started enjoying myself on the tour, having fun, traveling, seeing the world. You know, there's not many people that can do that. I just started looking at it that way and looking at life a lot more positive and, you know, that's how my tennis went up, too.

Q. Could you in some way say that maybe Jennifer helped you because she took her life into her hands, or no?

XAVIER MALISSE: I don't know what she did. I mean, you know, it was enough. We both had enough, and, you know, I had to move on. So I quit with everything and that's it, you know.

Q. I just meant in terms of seeing her work ethic.

XAVIER MALISSE: I don't really look what she does. You know, I'm more busy with myself. I knew last year that I messed up, and, you know, we all do. I was 19 years old. So I got to leave it behind and move on to the next year.

Q. Do you think you're now working harder than you've ever done?

XAVIER MALISSE: I could still work harder. I could go to the gym more. But I'm definitely doing a lot more. I think David's been a great help to that because he makes it fun for me, too. But I would definitely say mentally -- I mean, physically I could still work harder. But I've been playing so much this year that I really can't go to the gym and start lifting weights, but I'll have time in November and December.

Q. You said the court seemed small to you. What do you mean by that?

XAVIER MALISSE: The nets seem different, too. When you play two matches on the other courts, the nets go all the way over doubles lines. All of a sudden you come to a court where there's only single lines, so it looks smaller. But I've had that experience two or three weeks ago against Rafter in Cincinnati. This time I didn't let it bother me. But you got to get used to the court. It also looks smaller, because it's such a huge -- you know, all these stands.

Q. Do you think the way you reacted to the three calls in the first set which might well have gone your way and didn't is another example of the progress you're making? It didn't seem to worry you too much.

XAVIER MALISSE: Yeah. You know, it's also from Monday. Monday, I totally messed up. I learned from that. And I think you got to -- there's gonna be missed calls and good calls. There was a couple in my favor, too. And, you know, the umpire isn't going to overrule it. Keep talking to him doesn't help. You can let him know, ask for a change if there's a couple mistakes that cost. But, you know, it's five sets out there, so you know, there's a long way to go.

Q. Obviously, you learned from that experience on the court. Do you think, too, that the fact that David, the way he reacted and sort of maybe didn't speak to you for a while, that he sort of showed -- you had praised what he'd done to help you technically. But do you think that showed that he wasn't the type that would stand for that?

XAVIER MALISSE: No, I think you're right. He had every right to leave and stuff. But we talked and, you know, he was right to be mad. And I was disappointed in myself. We kept on moving on. I was still in the tournament. And, you know, I think by playing these two matches and learning from it, I kind of made up a little bit. You know, I cannot make up for what happened Monday, but can definitely improve on it.

Q. When you were a kid at Bolletierri's, the rub on you was that you had extraordinary talent but very little work ethic. When did that change? What was the turning point?

XAVIER MALISSE: Also this year I think, everything turned around for me - my life on the court and off the court. It's just, I think before I know I had the talent but I never believed in myself. When I went out on the court, I wasn't going out to win, I was just going out to see what happens. And also that state of mind changed a little bit this year, and, you know, it changes a lot. I didn't believe in it before, that it really worked. But I think, looking back on the last six, seven months, it just helped me tremendously.

Q. You hadn't played Tim before, but obviously you have seen him at tournaments, watched him play. The pros always know the other pros' results. Tim, especially having had three Wimbledon semifinals, being very close this time to the final, people sort of say, "Well, is he ever going to make it? Is he going to ever win the big one," which would be Wimbledon. Do you think these setbacks that he has from time to time when he's close to doing something, do you think he'll still get over that and win one of the big ones?

XAVIER MALISSE: Yeah, he made three times the semis and he played great. It's not like he played bad and the other guys beat him. That happens. But Tim has done unbelievable in tennis, and what he's done for tennis in this game. But it's not easy in a Slam. There's unbelievable guys out there. On grass, I know he feels good, like Wimbledon. You still have to win. But I think Tim is the nicest guy, and he's playing good. I don't think anybody can take him -- anything -- like you can't take him - how do you say it - bad for it. You know, he's done everything he could and he's had a great career.

Q. Any thoughts on the next two players, one of whom you'll have to play?

XAVIER MALISSE: Not yet. I think right now I'm a little too tired to think about it now. I think I'll just, today and tomorrow, enjoy what happened today and then Monday I'll be ready for whoever's on the other side of the court.

Q. And if it's the second half of the British team, you'll be quite happy to destroy that half as well? (Laughter).

XAVIER MALISSE: I wouldn't mind. Yeah, we'll see what happens. He's beaten me this year. I'd like to, you know, have a revenge. But it's also good for Davis Cup, if we ever play. So we'll see. We'll see what happens.

End of FastScripts....

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