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March 11, 2002

Tim Henman


MODERATOR: Questions for Tim.

Q. Interesting exercise in more ways than one.

TIM HENMAN: Certainly was. I felt like I was a good volley away from probably winning that match 6-2, 6-3. I think it was my first breakpoint of the second set when I was up 4-3. I actually hit a couple good volleys. He hit a good passing shot. Just goes to show how quickly it can turn around because I definitely think from that point on, he dictated for quite a large period of the remainder of the match. I got to take confidence from the way I hung in there because I was definitely struggling a little bit in the third set. Managed to get on level terms at 4-All. At the most crucial time, I played two really good games to get out of there.

Q. What was the need for the trainer?

TIM HENMAN: I felt -- I don't know whether I've got allergies. It was almost like sinus. I felt like I was a bit clogged up. Doesn't sound particularly nice. I felt like I sort of had a lot of mucous in my throat and I could never get rid of it. When you've been playing out there for as long as we had, being run out for the last three-quarters of an hour, I was struggling to get my breath. Doug ended up giving me some throat lozenges. That sort of helped a little bit. A bit strange playing with sweets in your mouth.

Q. As you say, when you seemed to be under a bit of danger, you played some of your best tennis.


Q. Earlier on, very early start, 10:00 in the morning, you got into it quickly enough, break for 3-1.

TIM HENMAN: Yeah. I mean, as I said, 6-2, 4-3, breakpoint, I don't think I could change too much about my performance. I was serving very well. From the baseline, I was always being aggressive. You know, it is that very fine margin. You know, I would have liked to have made life easier for myself. 6-2, 6-3 would have been, you know, very, very solid performance. You know, as it was, I had to dig deep because once he held on to that game, he was certainly raising his levels. Again, against all the Spanish guys, once they get a rhythm from the baseline, as he probably did in the third set, he's going to make you move. I probably picked up my serving a little bit in the middle to end of the third set. That helped a lot.

Q. How are you finding the balls?

TIM HENMAN: They're good, yeah.

Q. A debate, some people think they're a bit heavy, difficult to generate as much pace.

TIM HENMAN: I was probably having my fair share of a whinge in Rotterdam, Dubai. At least I was winning when I was complaining. So this one is much, much better. I think all the players are pretty anal about the balls. There's about three or four different types of Penn. Depending on where it's made, I think the ones we didn't like were made in Ireland, but the American one is much, much better. All a bit technical, isn't it (laughter)?

Q. 2-Love down in the third, you'd just been given the warning.


Q. What was it that you had to say to yourself at that point?

TIM HENMAN: I had to do something. I certainly wasn't enjoying it out there. But I needed to sort of dig my heels in because, you know, a break is never a break until you've held your next game. If he gets up 3-Love, that is a big platform for him. So certainly to break back immediately was really important. But, yeah, I was definitely frustrated at that stage. You know, there was a few, you know, important -- well, one particular moment where Norm decided he wanted to get involved in the action. You know, that was frustrating. You've got to deal with those types of things.

Q. Wondering why the players should be angry about the balls. They're the same for both guys, right?

TIM HENMAN: Sure, sure. You're exactly right. It's going to boil down to who deals with it best on the day. But I think from the players' point of view, we feel that the standard of play we have, we should be playing with better quality balls. You speak to 80, 90% of the players that were playing in Rotterdam or Dubai, I think they would say they were poor quality.

Q. By better quality, do you mean faster?

TIM HENMAN: No, just more consistent. I think the consistency of the ball wasn't great. But, you know, I obviously dealt with it okay in Rotterdam. I got to the final, was within two points of winning the tournament.

Q. Do you feel the extra energy you had to expend today will be of detriment come later stages?

TIM HENMAN: Almost the opposite. I think sometimes when you come through a match like this, where it ended up being a struggle, sometimes good things can happen. You've got to get the job done somehow. I think in Dubai, you know, I got frustrated with myself when I played Johansson. I wasn't doing myself any favors. And today, it was a question of, you know, fighting very, very hard because in the middle of the third set, I probably wasn't playing my best. But, you know, I hung in there. To come out with a win, that's the most important thing for me.

Q. On a physical level, in that heat --?

TIM HENMAN: Physically, I feel fine. I think the sinus thing or whatever it is, whether it's an allergy, I don't envisage that being a problem. I feel physically in really, really good shape.

Q. How do you think the serve held up today?

TIM HENMAN: It was okay. I think, as I said, the early part -- well, for a set and three-quarters, it was good. But there was no question that it dropped off a little bit. Having said that, I think when I did need it in the latter part of the third set, it was certainly getting better again. I still have a difficult -- my attitude when something isn't working is always to, you know, try and concentrate and focus that little bit harder. That is the opposite of what I should be doing on my serve because I think the harder I try, the more tension there is in the whole motion. I've got to have the attitude, you know, trust the serve, because I've been serving better and better. But that's still something that I have a tough time implementing.

Q. How do you relax when it's a tight situation, you have a breakpoint? Larry talked about breathing techniques.

TIM HENMAN: Not really breathing techniques. It's more in the motion itself, making sure that I'm very loose and almost languid with the way that I serve. But, you know, it's getting better. I'm still under no illusions. There's a long way to go. But if I can keep doing that and keep trying to have that attitude, it will help me a lot.

Q. The work you did sort of preChristmas with Larry out here, do you feel that's paying dividends?

TIM HENMAN: It's difficult. We only spent a few days here in the desert. I'd like to think that, you know, it could help me a little bit. I just feel like the work in general, being able to practice here for 11 or 12 days, in the States, in this type of weather, rather than being indoors at home, does make a huge difference. You know, with no other distractions - we weren't competing in a tournament, there was nobody else around. It was great that we could just, you know, work really, really hard on my game.

Q. You changed coaches last year, is that correct?


Q. So how is that working out? What's different?

TIM HENMAN: Well, I'd worked with David Felgate for nearly nine years. We had an enormous amount of success. But I think we both felt that perhaps it was time for me to have a change. I had a period of I think three months, four months, where I was just traveling and playing on my own. And that was important because I think it gave me an opportunity to work a few things out for myself. But I was under no illusions that I would continue that, even though I had some good results. So it was just a question of seeing who was available, and obviously having chosen Larry, when we spoke before we started working, it was important that we saw eye to eye on the way I needed to play, you know, the things that we both believe I could achieve. Again, you know, it's still early stages. But I'm really pleased with the direction of my game right now.

Q. Can you say what's different about being coached by him?

TIM HENMAN: Well, a different input. Working with Larry, obviously he's got an enormous amount of experience, worked with some great players in the past. He's definitely changed my thinking in a few areas, both technically and tactically.

Q. Do you feel like the match against Lapentti last year out here was a bit of a turning point?

TIM HENMAN: Wasn't one of my best, was it, followed by Santoro in Miami? I definitely was frustrated at that stage. I wouldn't necessarily say that that specific match was a turning point. I look back, when I was working with David, the lines of communication were always very, very open. We were constantly talking the ways that we wanted to improve and get better. You know, it so happened that after that trip, after this trip 12 months ago, that is when we decided to go separate ways.

Q. Does that give you a bit of extra motivation coming back here?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I didn't do myself justice in these two tournaments. You know, I feel like I wanted to take advantage of that because these are I think good opportunities, you know, they're surfaces that suit me pretty well. At the end of the day, you know, your ranking, your race position, is made up so much by the Slams and the Masters Series. You have to play well in these events.

Q. Are you going to be returning to the desert to work out before going over to Europe for the clay season?

TIM HENMAN: Probably not, no. I think that is the time when you want -- I don't know how many clay courts they have here. That's when the conditions are probably very different playing in Europe. Plus, you know, we travel enough to want to spend even more time away from home.

End of FastScripts….

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