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March 21, 2004

Tim Henman


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tim.

Q. Didn't exactly give you much scope today, did he?

TIM HENMAN: No. You know, he played great. He certainly proved why he's the best player in the world right now. You know, it's one of those occasions where I didn't perhaps play my best, but I certainly wasn't allowed to. You know, I think the first couple of service games, his service games, were the only ones where I had half a chance. It's just those types of opportunities that you really have to capitalize on. Ended up he just needed one chance on my serve, and he took it. That really -- that really sort of dictated the rest of the match.

Q. What are the particular qualities you think set him apart from everybody else at the moment?

TIM HENMAN: I think it's his serve, you know, it's not like a Roddick serve, he's not standing up there and serving a lot of aces or even unreturnable serves, but his variation is so good. He's looking for that weak reply. With his groundstrokes, sort of the racquet head speed, that spin he puts on the ball. He can play aggressively with a big margin for error. My sort of only criticism was that I couldn't really be a bit more aggressive on his serve. You know, having said that, he was serving at a high percentage and hitting his spots very, very well. Then, yeah, as everyone saw, his forehand was working very well.

Q. He's also deceptively quick, isn't he?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah. He's a great athlete. He's quick, but I think it's his balance that is good. You know, you can move him out of position, but he's very good at holding his balance, you know, hitting a shot and getting back into position. That was a good example. You know, I couldn't have hit the drop volley any better. He moved great up to it and hit a winner off it. You know, that was a great shot at an important time. It's shots like that that make the difference.

Q. What would you have needed today to turn it around? What would you have hoped for, one or two shots?

TIM HENMAN: I think just trying to, you know, maybe be the one that was dictating play a bit more. You know, I certainly wasn't able to do that on his serve. Apart from those first two service games, I didn't have any opportunities. He was holding serve very easily. Then you get into a situation where you always feel like you're the one serving and under pressure. You look at the way he served I think for the whole tournament, he lost his serve twice, I think. One of those was against Agassi yesterday, and I don't know what the other time was.

Q. Does it lessen the disappointment that it was a final, losing to someone playing that well, or is it still hard to take?

TIM HENMAN: It's disappointing. I feel the level I'm playing at, I'm capable of beating anyone. But, you know, I think when you look at it, when you look at the match, he was better than me today, no doubt about it. I've had the rub of the green against him in previous matches. Today, you know, he raised his level, and certainly deserved to win, and as I said, emphasized the fact why he's the best player in the world. You look at his results, having won in Australia, Dubai, now here, he's setting the benchmark for everyone.

Q. In terms of your own week's work, where it takes you, where you think you are with your game, you must be very satisfied?

TIM HENMAN: Oh, absolutely. I couldn't be happier, you know, with the direction that my game's moving in. Yeah, as I said, Paris was probably my greatest achievement so far. You know, if I'd have won today beating the world No. 1 in a Masters Series final, it might have perhaps even topped that. You know, having come up short in these circumstances, I don't think there's too much to be disappointed about.

Q. Have you been asked about the heat?

TIM HENMAN: No, I haven't.

Q. Henin-Hardenne said it was the worst conditions she ever played in as far as heat goes. I don't know how you feel about that.

TIM HENMAN: You can't argue with her opinion, but it's not my opinion. I don't think it's been so different from any of the other days. I still would say that the day I played Corretja was hotter. But, no, it is hot, don't get me wrong. But I think when you throw in humidity like sometimes in Washington or Cincinnati or perhaps the US Open, even Australia at times, I personally much prefer to play in these types of conditions.

Q. The heat came from Roger.

TIM HENMAN: Absolutely.

Q. Even though he was tremendous, you didn't have a play on any of his service games?

TIM HENMAN: No, I struggled in that department. You know, I'd be the first to admit that I didn't play my best. But I think at times I wasn't allowed to.

Q. He didn't permit it.

TIM HENMAN: He served at a pretty high percentage. His variation was very good on his serve. You know, it's a Catch-22 situation because you feel like you don't want to make mistakes, so you put the ball back in play. You're a little bit cautious. With his sort of power from the baseline, you're on the back foot. Sometimes then you take more risks and you make a few unforced errors. So, no, all credit to him. He's had a great week. You know, I'm not too disappointed.

Q. Have you ever felt so helpless at this stage of your career in a match?

TIM HENMAN: I felt pretty helpless the last time I played in the final here actually.

Q. Talking about Miami, you must be in a fairly optimistic mood about it?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, absolutely. In the immediate aftermath, it's disappointing. But, as I said, a pretty short period of time, certainly in terms of my career, how quickly my game has turned around and how confident I feel, and still how many areas I can be better in. If I keep making those improvements, as I know I will, then, as I said, these weeks are going to become the norm, and I'd like to try to take this type of tennis into the biggest events at the slams. That just fills me with even more excitement.

Q. Is there any theory as to why here you've done very well, then Miami has not been such a happy hunting ground?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I think again when you sort of change the conditions, it's very humid, the air's much thicker, I think I have struggled with the conditions a little bit. But I then would say, you know, this time last year, it was pretty horrendous the way I was playing. Now I just think I'm a much, much better player, in a better position to deal with that. You know, it can be pretty windy, as we all know. But there's no reason why that shouldn't suit me well. If I can keep going aggressive, get to the net, I know that the vast majority of players don't want to be hitting passing shots in the wind. You know, I'll make sure that I get down there, prepare well, try and do the same as I've done here, hopefully go one step further.

Q. Avoiding those spectators, of course? Your neck.

TIM HENMAN: That's right, yeah. I'll get someone else to carry my bags next time.

Q. How much time are you going to be spending with Paul between now and the French?

TIM HENMAN: Well, obviously all of Miami, definitely the week before the French. I think there's a question mark which or when he'll come over for maybe one practice week. But, again, that's what I appreciate with the situation. I'm lucky that Paul is prepared to be flexible. We haven't really discussed it. But I think it's a kind of we'll see how probably I feel and he feels, and then we'll go from there. But at the moment, you know, there is a question mark with one practice week. But then certainly it's going to be a long stint for him from the week before the French right on through Wimbledon.

Q. Has what happened in Paris and here changed your expectations going into a tournament like Miami?

TIM HENMAN: I think my expectations have always been pretty high, but I think just my level of confidence and obviously the standard of my game, I just feel that I'm able to put in much more of a consistently high level of performance. When you are playing the best players, The Masters Series are continuously so strong, you've got to be able to do that to reach the latter stages. So, yeah, on the one hand I'm full of confidence, you know. On the other hand I appreciate I've got to knuckle down again and start this process. If I can do that then, you know, I look forward to good results in Miami.

Q. Will you give yourself any time off?

TIM HENMAN: Not really. I mean, I don't really feel -- there are times when you sort of finish a couple of events, and you feel like, yeah, you need a few days' break. I feel very fresh. I'll travel tomorrow. Then I've got a few bits and pieces to do on Tuesday, not on the court, if you like. I'll probably be ready to hit some balls on Wednesday and Thursday. I think it's important to make that adjustment. The conditions are quite different. So, yeah, I've got a busy schedule, but I feel fit and full of energy.

Q. Did he show you anything different today, a little backhand?

TIM HENMAN: We know he's got a great repertoire of shots. But I just think the variation on his serve was probably a little bit different. I think in our previous matches, he hasn't served so consistently, so I've had more looks at his second serve, and therefore I've been able to be aggressive and dictate play a little bit. Having said that, he still came up with some great passing shots when I did get to the net.

Q. Are you going to have the family with you in Miami?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, they're coming out. My wife's working again, so my daughter's going to come as well.

Q. Bringing anyone with her?

TIM HENMAN: We'll have someone there to help.

Q. From what I saw the other day, you and Roger seemed to be pretty comfortable with one another. Did you have a chance to chat or bump into each other after?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, we've just been chatting a little bit about the match, you know, what each other's plans are over the next couple of days. So, yeah, no, we get on great. We've always got on well. I think, you know, some people in other sports, it's probably a little bit different that, you know, you can be sort of enemies on the court and then you come off, before and after the match, it doesn't detract from the way we compete.

Q. Did you play any practical jokes on him maybe?


Q. Did anybody?

TIM HENMAN: Not during this week, no.

Q. If you could hit him in the knee.

TIM HENMAN: Cut his strings up.

End of FastScripts….

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