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March 21, 2003

Tim Henman


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Hot enough?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it's pretty warm out there. It's a long time since I've worn a hat on the court. I thought yesterday -- I practiced for a couple hours yesterday and I thought yesterday was fractionally worse. But it is, it's certainly hot out there.

Q. Played pretty well, didn't he?

TIM HENMAN: He did. I certainly give him credit, but I would tend to sort of focus on my performance a lot more and, you know, it's disappointing, it's frustrating. But having said that, I think there's only one way to really approach it, and you've got to get out there and, you know, get stuck in and work your way through it because it's -- obviously, things aren't coming easily. But, you know, I'm certain that, you know, if I keep doing the right things then my game on the match court will improve.

Q. In practice, you feel as if you're hitting the ball well and doing it well?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, yeah. It's 99 times out of 100 it's like that, isn't it? The practice court is pretty easy. You've got to keep doing those things right. If you believe in what you're doing, then I think if you work hard -- certainly, I have to practice what I preach. I've said I've got to be patient and sort of keep my head down. That's probably easier said than done right now.

Q. What are you finding most difficult to get back into?

TIM HENMAN: It's a confidence thing. There's, you know, I think lack of confidence affects a number of things. It affects your decision-making, it affects your shot selection, your movement. When you're playing well and when things are coming more easily, there's actually a lot less thought going on in your head. So that's where, you know, you have to just try and keep things as simple and as straightforward as possible.

Q. You are probably never going to get an easy draw here. It was ironic who you've come up against, a guy who's practically the only other serve and volleyer in the tournament?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah. We've played I don't know how many other times, it's been 10 or 11 times or something. I've had problems against him in the past. Again, you certainly have to give him credit for making my life difficult, because he was playing good, quality tennis. He's doing the things better than, you know, as I'd like to do - serving consistently, aggressive from the baseline. It was an uphill battle.

Q. What do you think you're doing well?

TIM HENMAN: Stretching my shoulder. I wouldn't say I'm doing anything particularly well, if I'm brutally honest, you know. There's patches where things are okay. But as I said, there's lots of aspects of my game that I'm struggling with. As I said, the only way I'm going to improve that is if I keep working on all aspects.

Q. I just wondered if now that your minimal hard court season for the moment is over, are you going to get stuck into the clay maybe more than you would have, had you gone further?

TIM HENMAN: In terms of number of events I play, that is a possibility. In terms of the way I play, I'm always going to get stuck in and compete hard. I look at the schedule in the up-and-coming weeks and as it is at the moment, we lost in Davis Cup. My next event is Monte-Carlo. There's sort of two weeks either side.

Q. Estoril maybe?

TIM HENMAN: I haven't really given it a great deal of thought right now, but I think there's the opportunity to play an extra week.

Q. Is there ever a time in your private moments when you think, "Perhaps I shouldn't have done what I did against Thailand"?

TIM HENMAN: Absolutely not, no. I look back at the weekend, that's probably one of my best Davis Cup weekends in my career. I'll always, you know, remember that and the way that I played and the circumstances. If anything, perhaps, you know, the very early weeks that I started to have problems with my shoulder, but having said that, if we stopped every time we had a niggle or an ache or a pain, we wouldn't be playing very much. I suppose at that stage, whether it was in Cincinnati or Indianapolis, my shoulder was sore, but I didn't really think it was going to be such an ongoing dilemma. That's where, you know, I have to be realistic at this time. If I haven't really played, you know, I haven't really played properly since the middle of August. As I said, you know, I have to be a little bit patient. But I struggle with that a little bit.

Q. After a long layoff - it's not something you've dealt with, you don't have a great deal of experience - confidence is something you mentioned. The only way to restore confidence is to win, or to start to get some feeling that you're close to winning.


Q. How do you address that? You put in the work, but you're out there and it's all a struggle?

TIM HENMAN: It's a struggle, yeah.

Q. How does an athlete restore his own confidence?

TIM HENMAN: It is, it's exactly that. First and foremost, it's easier said than done. But you have to put yourself in and keep putting yourself in that position. I keep doing the right things on the practice court, but, you know, it's about what happens on the match court. If I play an extra -- if I play Estoril and I go there and do the right things and I lose, then, again, you've got to stick with it. I'll go to Monte-Carlo and, you know, keep doing the things I believe are going to restore my confidence on the match court. But as you said, I think the only thing that will begin to restore it is winning matches. I'm going to have to keep working hard.

Q. How much is this lack of confidence holding you back in going for shots you would normally go for?

TIM HENMAN: I think, as I said in Indian Wells, there's a little bit of second-guessing. Instead of there just being one thought, then you have some doubts about the shots you want to execute.

Q. Not much time for that, is there?

TIM HENMAN: No, there isn't, no, no. Especially when everything is reacting. It's not like you're standing over a golf shot where you've got time to think things through. You're reacting a large majority of the time. But, you know, I'm not the first person to, you know, to be going through a situation like this, and I'm sure I won't be the last.

Q. Tim, a question from this side of the house. Do you only now think of the shoulder when we raise the question with you? Have you reached that stage?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, absolutely. I came off and I sat down, you know, pretty disconsolately in the locker room right now. I was sort of reflecting on the two sets of pretty ordinary sets of tennis I played and trying to see if I could pick out any positives. It was only after a couple of minutes of thinking that I actually came around to the thought that, "Well, my shoulder is pretty good," and it hadn't even sort of crossed my mind that I'd been playing back from an injury. So if I'm trying to be very, very positive, then I can say that my shoulder is good. I feel absolutely 100 percent. I should try and focus on that for the rest of the day (smiling).

Q. Are you staying here for a few days?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I'm playing doubles, yeah, yeah.

Q. Haven't looked at the draw.

TIM HENMAN: Nor have I.

Q. Are you staying the whole week?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah. Again, I think doubles is a good opportunity for me. I think it's not quite singles, but it's a lot different from the practice court, to play in a match environment. I value that right now, because I think it's something that I need.

Q. Was it just because of the heat and the sun, the cap?

TIM HENMAN: It wasn't a fashion statement (laughing).

Q. At least it was on the right way. Tim, if we can just look at a slightly broader picture, if a player with your style ends up getting injured as seriously as you've been injured, do you feel for players, the way the game is played today? Injuries are now piling up.

TIM HENMAN: It is, it's difficult. You much rather one of the baseliners is injured because they won't be missed quite so much.

Q. Name names.

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, too many (smiling). It's been an ongoing problem, but I think -- and it's been said before, with the amount that we play and the way I think perhaps the way the game has been slowed down, that sort of reflects in the ball and the length of the rallies that we play, it just puts even more strain on elbows and shoulders and knees or whatever. So it is, it's a battle to remain healthy. Then it's obviously an even bigger battle to be winning consistently at the highest level.

Q. Can I change subjects for a moment, please, and ask you what your sentiments are about the ATP players asking for more prize money from the gross take rather than the net profits?

TIM HENMAN: In which events?

Q. Grand Slams.

TIM HENMAN: I don't think it's quite as clear-cut as just being an issue about, you know, wanting more prize money because I think we're paid very, very well in those Grand Slams. But I think if you look at, you know, whether it's about investing money into the promotion of the game or into the pension plans or medical insurance for different players, I think there are lots of issues to talk about and to discuss. I think at some stage the players would feel that they'd like to talk about that.

Q. You mean, have those sort of things in place in addition to winnings, prize money?

TIM HENMAN: Say that again?

Q. To have those things in place in addition to prize money?

TIM HENMAN: I think that, you know, we don't sort of feel that when you look at the percentages of the revenue that go back into the players, I don't think we are necessarily saying that we want to get paid, you know, a large percentage more. I think these are the other areas that the players feel that, you know, with the amount of money that is generated in the Grand Slams, could be invested back into the players themselves.

Q. Do you think there's also an opportunity to unify the game and bring the different governing bodies together?

TIM HENMAN: I think it would benefit everyone. You see at different times of the year when there are tennis meetings and you have the ITF and the ATP and the WTA and the Grand Slams and the Tennis Masters Series and the Tennis Masters Cup, you know, it seems like there's a lot of cooks.

End of FastScripts….

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