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March 19, 2004

Tim Henman


THE MODERATOR: Tim advances to his eighth career ATP Masters Series semifinal. Tomorrow he'll try to reach his fourth final in an ATP Masters Series event. Questions for Tim.

Q. How does that rate on the satisfaction scale?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I think when you get into a match as close as that then, you know, it's a fine line between a lot of satisfaction and a lot of disappointment. You know, against Andy, I'm grateful that I've won a couple of tight ones. And, you know, today was no exception. He had one match point against me in Washington, and I won that. You know, he had a match point today. It is, it's always been very, very tight against him. You know, as I said, sometimes they go your way. Against Canas in Australia, it didn't go my way. I played another good match today, and fortunately I came away with a win. It's very pleasing.

Q. You lost some significant leads. You were 4-2 up, 4-2 up in the tiebreak. How did you put that out of your mind?

TIM HENMAN: I felt the disappointing aspect was my service game at 4-2 because I'd been very comfortable on serve up until then. I just felt perhaps I played the situation a little bit rather than each and every point. We got into a long serve obviously in that game. Yeah, I lost my rhythm a little bit. I think I made four out of 14 first serves. Especially when you get into a tight situation, you want to try and make those first serves. Obviously, with the nature of a match, a server of Andy's caliber, if he's going to break you, you want to make sure he earns it. He hit some good shots, don't get me wrong, but I felt I didn't play my best game. That was frustrating, disappointing. Again, I'm just out there to compete. I lost a tight first set, but I felt like there's no reason why I couldn't raise my level and hopefully win the second set.

Q. You lost a service break as well in the second set. Do you reach the point where you don't fret about these things as much as you might have in the past?

TIM HENMAN: I think, definitely. I think my whole attitude in general, as you guys have probably seen better than most, is I feel much calmer and much more relaxed on the court. You know, in years gone by, you know, it's not the worst thing to be guilty of, but I definitely ended up trying a little bit too hard. I think I've wanted to win almost too much. And that's affected my performance. Again, you know, when you're playing these types of matches, you want to make it as simple as possible. You break it down into each point. You try to play the point the way you want to. That's going to give you the best chance of winning, whereas before, 4-2 up on serve, "I've just broken, I can't give away my serve here, got to play a good game." I think that's where -- you know, perhaps I made that mistake today, but just for one game. But I think my attitude in general is, you know, very good. When you get into a tight third set, you can't afford to waste any extra energy when you've been out on the court for a long, long time.

Q. How important was Paris in that process? Is it as simple as saying this isn't a match you would have won if Paris hadn't happened?

TIM HENMAN: I think just in general Paris, certainly gotten through to another final in a Masters Series there and actually won it, it did give me a massive amount of confidence. And, you know, I've always had a lot of self-belief. But I think just to reiterate the point internally that, yeah, I can win against the best players in the world, you know, in a big, big tournament. And certainly, you know, I think that has had a big impact on me. Now I'm trying to build from that. I think with my performances, the way I'm playing, I feel good about the direction my game is going.

Q. Seemed to be another game, too, where tactically you were mixing it up very well. Andy said he felt the match was played the way he wanted it played. To me it seemed like you were dictating play.

TIM HENMAN: I think we were dictating play pretty well on our serves. I felt, especially when I was to the right of the umpire's chair, there's a pretty sort of stiff breeze coming down the court. I felt like I was mixing my serve up well to make sure that I got him on the defensive. If I got a short return, then I was dictating a lot with the second shot. I think it just goes to show, you know, the game has changed quite a lot in the last couple years because you look at Arthurs, I don't think there's anyone that serves better in the game, and he's a guy that likes to serve first and second serve, serve and volley, first and second ball. I return well, don't get me wrong, but I broke him five times in the match. I just think that emphasizes the point that just to be an out-and-out serve-and-volleyer is very, very difficult. Paul, we were talking about it, and he was relaying how I think to a certain extent Pete struggled to be able to do that continuously. You know, look how well he serves. I think that's an area that I've got the balance right at the moment. I'm being very offensive, but I'm setting up play with my serve and finishing a lot of points at the net. That's a good sign for me.

Q. I asked you this question before. How often does the name "Sampras" come into your conversations with Paul at the moment?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it does from time to time when we want to play a good course, he's in town (smiling). We use his name fairly regularly. But, yeah, just with different -- sometimes different tactical match-ups, when Paul obviously was watching Pete play against different types of players. But, you know, it's great to have Paul's experience and his knowledge with his time with Pete. But certainly we're both aware it's about me and using the tools that I've got.

Q. You were thinking you might link up with Pete or have conversations with Pete when you were here in California. Has that happened?

TIM HENMAN: I played golf with him, yeah.

Q. Did you beat him?

TIM HENMAN: I think we ended up all square. But I think it was a moral victory for him, I'd have to say. He was playing pretty well.

Q. Did you talk about tennis?

TIM HENMAN: Not really, no. He said he's got a couple of English neighbors that just want to talk about Wimbledon (smiling). But, no, we didn't -- we talked a little bit about tennis. He asked me how things were going with Paul, and how I was enjoying it. But, no, he looks very happy with what he's doing.

Q. Was it a three ball? Was Paul in it, as well?


Q. Distinctly American phrase, but do you think it would be accurate to say that you showed a lot of guts out there today?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I think I compete well. I think it's an aspect of my game that has always been there. When I talk about in years gone by almost trying too hard, I felt that sometimes when I was in the negative position, I almost told myself to try harder. You know, that wasn't really the right thing to do because I think it's evident every time I step on the court, I'm going to give a hundred percent. That's where I think I take a slightly different approach. If things aren't going well, then I try and relax and know that I'm going to give it my best. I think with that attitude, I've got a better chance of turning things around. Yeah, I've always competed hard and always will do.

Q. Could you talk a little bit more about the serve and volley. It's got to be an advantage because it's such a rare look, yet you seem to be saying that it has its real limitations.

TIM HENMAN: Not limitations. But I think you've just got to be -- you know, you've got to be selective. The players of today, if they know every time you stand up to the line you're going to serve and volley, they'll get into a rhythm. You know, I think, as I said, with someone like Arthurs' serve, he serves better than me, and he wasn't able to serve continuously first and second serve and come in behind it. But, you know, I think what I'm doing well, you're right, not a lot of people play like me, not a lot of people like to finish the points at the net and use the serve and volley as a part of their game. Again, it's just trying to get this variation right. In years gone by, I haven't been able to get the balance right. I either played, you know, too cautiously from the baseline or I've suddenly just tried to come in on everything. I think just the selection process I'm getting a lot better at now.

Q. Do you find it a little curious that Pete, after what he accomplished, he doesn't really want to talk about tennis or doesn't come around at all? Do you think maybe when it's done, it's done?

TIM HENMAN: Well, no, it's consumed his life I think for such a long time. You know, he gave every ounce of energy into being the player that he was. I'm sure at some stage, you know, he'll come back and, you know, visit tournaments and see people. But at the moment, you know, he's very happy playing golf and spending a lot of time with his family, which you obviously aren't able to do when you're competing as much as we do.

Q. Did you talk to him before you hooked up with Paul and ask him about it?

TIM HENMAN: No, Paul and I have been -- I got to know them both probably in '95, '96. So I've known them both for a long time. It was just something that I didn't really have planned, obviously, working with Paul. But ended up phoning him for an opinion and kind of went from that.

Q. Is the new feeling of relaxation just part and parcel of getting older, being more experienced, or is it part of getting back after the shoulder injury, or maybe part of being a dad?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, a combination of all those. I think you could point to each of those aspects and say that it has its place. It's great fun when you're playing and you're playing well and you're healthy. When you've had a shoulder injury and you're not able to play the way you are, it's frustrating. That certainly has played its part. You know, tennis is massively important to me, but your life away from that and your family, I think, again, puts it in perspective. As I said, having won a Masters Series, I think that's given me even greater confidence and assurance on the court. I want to try and add to it this week.

Q. How easy is it to stay relaxed? Took all your career to get a Masters Series title, now the way you're playing, the chance two come along at once.

TIM HENMAN: I'd like to think so. But, again, there are going to be times when you still get frustrated. I was frustrated against Corretja. I didn't really feel like I was playing particularly well. But it's then how you deal with it. You know, it can't always be plain sailing. There are going to be plenty of bumps down the line. But I think it's just the way of dealing with that. As you say, if you're frustrated, there's two options: either you get more frustrated, and that's going to be your detriment, or you deal with it and try and calm down and play better tennis. And I think, you know, if you've got a clear head, it's much easier to do that.

Q. There was a case today at 4-3 in the second set where you got the game won, Andy was out of the court, you had the whole court, you gave it back to him, got a miss-hit. That, again, was one of those situations that could have really upset you in the past.

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, and I think that's a frustrating aspect. You know, he did well. He picked up a couple of balls, chased them down. But as you say, I had pretty easy shots, chose the wrong option, ended up losing that point, losing my serve. Again, I think, yeah, in years gone by, I probably would have got pretty frustrated and a little bit down on myself. But, you know, I think I've realized it's not going to do me any good. You know, we're still on serve, I'll just compete as best I can. You know, if that's maturity or being a father or having more success and being a bit more confident, then I'm happy that it's that way now.

Q. How important do you think it is to gain what might be seen as a psychological edge on a player? You have players you have good records against, bad records. You're in the process of building quite a good record against Andy. Is that an important element, not only when you play him, but when you play others as well?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it is. But I just think, you know, it's great -- again, if I've won a Masters Series, I can win another one. If I've beaten a player, I can beat him again. I just think with the standard in the men's game, it's so high, certainly from my point of view, when I step on the court, that's all forgotten about because you got to do it again on the given day. You know, I've had some success against Andy, but, you know, you change two points and I'm 3-1 down and he's 3-1 up and he's got psychological advantage over me. Yeah, it's so tight, it's so close. Next when I play Hewitt, I'm playing better than I ever played, I've lost seven times in a row, but I'll be real excited to play him next time because I think I will have, you know, a better game plan, a clearer way of playing, probably get beaten for an eighth time.

Q. How would you compare the service games of Andy and of Pete?

TIM HENMAN: Both pretty difficult. Yeah, I mean, slightly different types of serve. I mean, Andy serves bigger, but I think Pete's sort of variation. I probably, if anything, found Pete's serve harder to return. I feel for some reason I'm pretty good at getting Andy's back in court. But again, you know, it's just a question of trying to get as many balls back in as possible. Unfortunately, you know, I played Pete -- I think I played Pete four times on grass, and that's pretty tough to return at best of times.

Q. You talked through the game you broke him in the final set. You ended up winning it 30, but you were Love-40, played some pretty devastating shots.

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, again, I just felt like if I'm going to be in a situation, I want to try and make Andy beat me with his backhand when I'm at the net. And I just felt that he missed a couple of the first serves. You know, second serve's still pretty difficult to come in behind it, it's so heavy, it's got so much kick. But you don't feel you have got so much to lose. I made a couple of good approaches, got Love-30. I picked a good first serve and hit a really good return. But, yeah, still it's not over. Played two good points, got back to 30-40. You know, it's tough at 3-4 in the third after two and a half hours on court. You know, it's not easy when you've got a high lob and you've got to take it out of the air, you know the consequences if you miss it, and he missed it by six inches. I was pretty pleased with that. That was probably my most pleasing game of the match, my last game, just to be very purposeful in what I was trying to do with each point. You know, once you establish that on each point, you're going to give yourself best chance of finishing off because it's time to finish at that stage.

Q. The Masters win in Paris was obviously a big confidence booster. Looking back at the last few months, with the upward trajectory, I'm wondering if the win in DC wasn't more important?

TIM HENMAN: I think it was a big bonus for me because I was just sort of -- I felt that that was at a stage where I was really coming out of my shoulder problem, had played for a couple of months where I really felt healthy. It was definitely -- it definitely kind of gave me the confidence at that stage that, yeah, I can win tournaments and beat some good players. But I think just looking at my game there and how it is now, there's a big, big difference between the way I'm serving and constructing some of the points. But certainly when you win a title like that, it's always going to bring back good memories.

Q. What about Blake and Labadze?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I've just been sort of watching a little bit. I'm much more familiar with Blake's game. He's been playing well on these hard courts, which suit his game pretty well. But, you know, Labadze has come through. He's been the surprise, I think, of the tournament. It's always a good situation to be in when you're through to the semis and you can hopefully watch them battle it out for a couple of hours.

Q. How do you feel physically?

TIM HENMAN: I feel good, no. Again, it was definitely much cooler today. I felt the temperature dropped a bit. It was a pretty long match, but I felt like my preparation coming into the week had been very good. I hadn't had so many long matches, so I don't think tomorrow will be a problem.

Q. Was Bill out with because of the acrobatics?

TIM HENMAN: Yes, Bill was giving me some attention.

End of FastScripts….

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