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January 20, 2005

Tim Henman


THE MODERATOR: First question.

Q. Haven't played him before. I suspect you wouldn't mind playing him again after that. I mean, seemed to deal with it very comfortably.

TIM HENMAN: I played well. You know, still there's a little bit of an unknown, as you say, when you haven't played someone before. I was taken a little bit by surprise the way his serve was coming off the court. Obviously tall guy, rising up pretty quickly. I thought I was a little unlucky to lose my serve actually in the first set. A complete miss-hit that put me in a pretty bad situation, but I felt like I responded well. Even though you're still serving at such a high percentage, I felt like I was in most of his service games and apart from the couple of service games beginning of the third, I felt like I was holding comfortably. So, yeah, I think it was a good -- it was a pretty good all-around performance for me.

Q. Kind of an air of inevitably about it in some ways.

TIM HENMAN: Good. I hope it came across that way.

Q. Did you feel that?

TIM HENMAN: As I said yesterday, you kind of want to have that to try and create that feeling, but you don't want to take anything for granted. If you're then with the attitude, "I'm just going to wait for it to happen," and expect it to happen, then you're going to get yourself into difficulty. But, you know, I felt like with that combination of holding serve fairly comfortably and then putting him under a lot of pressure, I feel like with my abilities and the amount that I'm going to make him play, I'm going to get chances and I'd like to think that I'm going to be able to take them. You know, still, the third set, you got to capitalize on it. So I was pretty happy to get that one at 4-All and finished it off.

Q. Got your lucky charm next, Davydenko. Played him twice, won the tournament.

TIM HENMAN: Did I? I didn't appreciate that. But that sounds good. I'll settle for that.

Q. When you decide to play from the baseline like you did, as a natural serve-volleyer, do you have to resist the temptation to sort of naturally --

TIM HENMAN: I've still got to use that option. And, you know, I've still got to make sure that I'm finishing the majority of the points at the net. I think that's the most important thing. It's sometimes a question of how you get there. And serving and volleying is 'route one' if you like. But I felt some of the time I was able to get him off the court and then move him behind the second one. You know, I think when -- I don't know whether it was evident watching, but one end is obviously much, much easier than the other because there's a breeze coming down the courts. From the end that you're playing uphill, you sort of feel like you can be on the defensive. I think that's where I was able to exploit his movement a lot. I felt, serving from that end, I was realing opening up the angles and sometimes going behind him but waiting for the right opportunity, whereas when you're serving sort of uphill, you've got to try to take every opportunity to be aggressive.

Q. Would you say you're at your most comfortable best here over the other eight attempts at this stage?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, without a doubt. Without a doubt. I feel I'm playing better, but also sort of mentally I feel very, very comfortable. I feel pretty relaxed about things. That is much more enjoyable, in all honesty. It's not that I haven't enjoyed it in the past, but there's definitely been, you know, self-inflicted pressure. And, you know, that doesn't help anyone. It certainly doesn't help me. I think when I'm on the court, if I can keep this sort of frame of mind and, you know, that's sort of been the majority of the way it's been over the last 12 to 15 months, I feel like I play better. I still can do it better. There's still times when I'm not as relaxed as I could be, but I'd like to think I can do it for longer periods.

Q. Is it the results in Paris and New York specifically that have taken that self-inflicted pressure off?

TIM HENMAN: A little bit. I think it's twofold. Obviously, with the result, when you've made a big breakthrough like that, it's nice to have it sort of quantified on paper that I've been to a semi of Slams outside of Wimbledon. But it was also the nature of it. I obviously was not feeling my best coming into those events, and that really emphasized to me that it just naturally took the pressure off because my expectations were far less because I just didn't really feel capable of competing at 100%. And now I feel that I've learnt from that a little bit. And now that I do feel in good physical shape, I want to make sure that I maintain that attitude. You know, I think, again, it was evident the first two, three games of the third set. It's like I'm in a great position. I'm up two sets to love and I want to emphasize my sort of domination of the match. But just for a couple of -- you know, for 10 minutes, I just tried a little bit too hard. You know, if that's my only sort of real complaint, then I don't think it's too bad.

Q. Not the easiest arena to get a good atmosphere going in, is it? It seems, just watching, slightly kind of soul-less. There were a few in the corner giving it a good try?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I felt like it was a good atmosphere. Neil is not here today, is he? Where is Neil? I waved five times today. Did you see it (laughter)?

Q. To Neil?

TIM HENMAN: No, no, no,. Picking my targets. I think it was two walking on the court.

Q. Do you get extra points for that?

TIM HENMAN: No, I don't think so. And two then going off the court. I felt that was an accomplishment in itself today.

Q. Neil will be very pleased.

TIM HENMAN: Good, good. If you could pass that on.

Q. That your career best?

TIM HENMAN: Probably. Not much to compete with.

Q. Will Davydenko find it different on the other side of the net than when you played him last, in 2003? Are you offering different things?

TIM HENMAN: I think I'm playing better. But, again, it was good -- I think the start of my play when I beat him in Paris was good. When I was coming forward and keeping the points pretty short, then that was successful. But I'd like to think that he doesn't serve as well as Hanescu, so I can perhaps be a little bit more aggressive coming forward on second serves when I get the opportunities.

Q. This time last year you lost to Canas. Have you actually thought about that? I mean, do you feel you actually learnt anything from that experience?

TIM HENMAN: Yes, yeah. I think you always want to try and learn something from your losses. But I really feel that that is a good example where, you know, I played pretty much exactly the way I wanted to play and I played some really great tennis. I hit a hundred winners I think in that match. You look at the way that I ended up losing my serve in the fifth, he hit some incredible shots. You know, that's one time when you just -- you can kind of, you know, tip your hat and say "too good." He played great tennis. We played for four hours or whatever. Boiled down to a couple of really important points; he was able to take them. I think there's other times when you know that you've played poorly or you haven't played the right way, and that's disappointing. But that was an occasion where, sure, you're pretty gutted to lose that type of match. But I think upon reflection, there's not too much that you can do about it. But I think if we both won, we'd play again. So I'd love to have that opportunity because I think my game's come a long way and I feel like I've got a good style to beat him as well.

Q. Having actually had that defeat, though, will that change in any way how you prepare if you get through to the fourth round?

TIM HENMAN: Will it change the way I prepare?

Q. Yeah.

TIM HENMAN: If I were to play him?

Q. Yeah.

TIM HENMAN: Not really, no, because I would go out and play exactly the same way and hope he'd miss a few passing shots and perhaps I would take a couple of opportunities I had. But that's sport, I think. Sometimes you make a putt; sometimes you don't. Sometimes you make those passing shots; other times you don't. I'd love to have that opportunity because it would mean I would get through the next one.

Q. Have you had a chance to see Elena's matches?

TIM HENMAN: No. I've sort of watched -- follow the scoreboards and seen her. She lost the first set in both and then, you know, obviously came back. It's great. I think it's such a great opportunity for her. In an event like this and the way it can impact her ranking I think would be enormous, then she can start getting into the top-tier events. I think if she gets the confidence, she's obviously playing well, you know, she can maintain that momentum, it will be exciting how quickly she could move up. You know, all the best to her, that's for sure.

Q. It's an individual sport, of course. But the sense that there's another British player.

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it's pretty rare, isn't it? Especially on the women's side. I mean, there's been so little really at this type of event. Yeah, she's, I mean, five matches already. Let's hope she can keep going because, you know, it's another example. There's so many other girls from so many other countries that can do it. You sort of ask the question, "Why haven't we?" It's sort of a psychological breakthrough, I think, for everyone. When the other girls back home all look at it, they know the way she practices and trains and hopefully they will say, "If she can do it, so can I."

Q. Elena thinks it's significant she came through qualifying; she didn't get wildcards.

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, definitely. I think it has far more meaning. It's a great opportunity when they get their wildcards at Wimbledon, and you hope they can take advantage. But when you've, you know, come through the matches as she has, then I think she'll take a lot of pride away from that.

End of FastScripts….

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