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April 18, 2000

Tim Henman

ATP TOUR: Any questions for the new clay court specialist?

TIM HENMAN: I wouldn't go that far.

Q. That was pretty thorough?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it was. I was very satisfied having not had a win here. I was keen to get one under my belt and the start was a little bit erratic for both of us. I think it took a while for us to find our feet, but once I had gone up 3-1 with the second break; then held from 15-40, I think that settled me down much, much more; started being more consistent; again at 4-2 when I was Love-40, those were definitely critical stages.

Q. Actually in the first set you had to save at least one breakpoint in every service game. Yet you still looked as if you were dominating the match?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I think sometimes when you play - I found anyway today - it is an obvious tactic that you want to get to his backhand, but he does stand -- he stands a long way over and I think mentally that -- it feels like you have got a smaller target to aim at. Sometimes I made a couple of unforced errors trying to get to his backhand, but once I employed the tactic of going to his forehand first, that opened up his backhand a lot more. Then I felt like I could dominate the points and especially when I was making a lot of first serves, that is going to help on every surface. But I was pleased with a lot of aspects of my game.

Q. Is he one of those awkward players to play against because you never know what he is going to do next, do you?

TIM HENMAN: Very much so. Mentally you don't quite know what is going to happen, but also with his tennis, he has got a big, big serve and big forehand as everybody knows. And his backhand is weaker compared to those two, but he sometimes doesn't miss a lot. He just chips and keeps making you play, so it is another good example of where it is important that you worry about your own game because if you start thinking about some of the shots he is hitting, you coming in on his backhand, he passes you a few times; then you start to worry about what he is doing. But no, definitely can't have any complaints with the way the match progressed.

Q. How keen were you not to be distracted about all the histrionics going on at the other end of the court bearing in mind you got distracted by sort of whether or not he was injured the last time you played --

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I think that is a fair comment. It would have been easy to get distracted because it was -- I think it was pretty amusing as well.

Q. The hat dance was a bit --

TIM HENMAN: I didn't actually hear what he said but obviously I heard that he got an inaudible obscenity. I thought it was pretty unlucky with his racket abuse because the racket didn't break and didn't endanger anyone, go near anyone, so to get a point penalty was harsh. But from my point of view, having just broken serve to start the game at 15-Love is a very nice cushion to have. I wasn't going to complain. When he started flattening out his hat a little bit, I wasn't going to get distracted either.

Q. You have played doubles with him. Is he slightly unhinged or is it just an act he puts out on court?

TIM HENMAN: Again, he is unpredictable. He is -- sometimes I don't know whether he quite knows what is going to happen and -- but you look at his results that he has had this year, it is exactly as he is. He is up-and-down. He has won two titles, beaten some really good players, and got on a roll winning ten matches in a row. But I think he has either won the tournament or he lost first round. He lost in Copenhagen after London and Key Biscayne and Casablanca and now here. So, yeah, he has been up-and-down, but on his day he is capable of some great tennis.

Q. What he was saying to Tom Barnes was that his understanding was that the rules were relaxed this year. Is that your understanding?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I thought in the past they have been relaxing those type of rules to let people express themselves a little bit more and that is exactly why I said I thought he was unfortunate because the racket didn't break. It didn't -- it wasn't bouncing around into the stands or anything, so especially after already having a warning, I think to get a point penalty for that is pretty harsh.

Q. For years I mean, it has been sort of a sense of apprehension certainly among us, if not the players, but playing on clay last year you began to make some headway, quarterfinals last week, good win today. Do you feel as far as you are concerned it is another tournament you don't have to particularly worry about?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, definitely. I undoubtedly go into this part of the year with greater expectations, as I said beforehand, and a lot more self-belief. Because I know that it is getting to the stage where it is like on any surface if I play well, I can beat a lot of these guys. If I play badly at this level you are going to lose. So there is a lot for me to gain, a lot of wins, a lot of confidence and as it's been in the last four five months, a lot of improvements that I can make on my game.

Q. What is the mood like in the locker room this week? When they brought in the Masters Series it was supposed to be nine big events, all the big guys are going to play every one of them. Now you come in, no Agassi, no Sampras, no Hewitt, no Rafter, no Kiefer. Is it a little bit flat down there?

TIM HENMAN: No, it is definitely not flat because I think for the players playing the tournaments, you know, those are good players that could beat anyone. But I think they do appreciate that it is disappointing. But I think at the end of the day you can never force people. You can put a lot of penalties in place, and I think they have, I think from the Tour's point of view, they have done everything they can. Those players are obviously giving up the opportunity to improve in the race and if they finish high in the year - I know money is not everything - but they are forfeiting a third and possibly more if they miss out. I think from The Tour's point of view they can't do anymore.

End of FastScripts….

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