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August 31, 1999

Tim Henman

Flushing Meadows, New York

USTA: Questions.

Q. Tim, what happened?

TIM HENMAN: Not a lot. Yeah, it was probably an all-time low for me. I don't know really where to begin to sort of describe the way I was playing. It was pretty horrendous.

Q. Any explanation at all?

TIM HENMAN: I wouldn't say that I'm full of confidence at the moment. If you'd watched the way I practiced in the last four or five days, you know, it's two different players. I'm 5 in the world at the moment. That's the highest ranking I've ever been, and I couldn't be more dissatisfied with my game.

Q. Wind was strong. Did you worry about the wind?

TIM HENMAN: It's not the easiest conditions I've ever played in, but he seemed to deal with it very well. You know, I'm not going to start looking for excuses. I'm the only one that's going to be able -- I'm the only one that I can blame and I'm the only one that's going to be able to put this right and turn things around and start playing the tennis I'm capable of.

Q. When did the dissatisfaction start with your game?

TIM HENMAN: You know, I think I didn't start off too badly. I was up 4-2, 15-Love. That's obviously a good position to be in. You know, there was no solidity to sort of drive that advantage home. I don't want to sit here and make excuses because I'm the one that's got to put this right.

Q. Was it a dissatisfaction before you arrived here?

TIM HENMAN: No. I mean, it hasn't been the best of summers for me since Wimbledon. I've played a little bit patchy. I played pretty well in Cincinnati. You know, I felt like in the last four or five days I was -- you know, I was hitting the ball very well in practice. I felt like I had a good opportunity here. You know, if I'm going to put in a performance like that, it's just not going to happen for me.

Q. Was it how poorly you played, how well he played, or some combination of both?

TIM HENMAN: You know, I think he played pretty well. For a guy of my ability to play like that, you know, it's not acceptable. You know, I got to this ranking because I believe I'm a good player. If I'm going to take it to the next level, then this type of thing can't happen.

Q. Every good player needs a little bit of luck. Do you feel in some ways you didn't get very much of it? A lot of net cords, chip-and-charge.

TIM HENMAN: I don't think I can start looking at it like that. I think I need a miracle more than anything if I was going to come through that. No, you know, it's a tough situation. It's not enjoyable to play like that. As I said, I've got to put things right.

Q. Is this a worrying position or something you feel that you can deal with fairly quickly, or what?

TIM HENMAN: I'm not too sure. I'm not the first person to be in this position, that's for sure. You know, in the past I've had difficult spells, and I've come out of them. I'm sure I will come out of them. You know, there's no question of my own self-belief. To take it to the next level, where I want to be. I don't want to be at No. 5 in the world. I want to be better than that. It's me that's got to do that.

Q. Was one of the most disappointing aspects that even after losing the first set, which you could have won, there were other opportunities where you had a chance to turn it back, they just slipped away?

TIM HENMAN: I really don't think you can take anything positive out of the match. I did have chances, but you've got to be playing better than that to be able to win, and I wasn't doing that. That's pretty much the way it is.

Q. How do you recover from this sort of defeat? Is it a blip you can just now obliterate, or are there more concerns?

TIM HENMAN: I'm not too sure, to tell you the truth. You know, I've got -- I'm going to go home. I need to sort of have a big think about things. There's no reason why I can't. I feel like I will put it right. You know, it's not satisfactory. It's not really good enough.

Q. What sort of things will be on the thought agenda?

TIM HENMAN: Everything. Everything about my game, what I'm trying to do out there. It's not one thing. I think on a day like today, it was everything. There is going to be an element of going back to the basics and really working hard on the practice court because I think that's the way it's happened in the past. I think that's probably what I've got to do now.

Q. Is the practice court where you need to be, or will it not be better getting straight back into a tournament?

TIM HENMAN: I don't know. I feel like I actually -- I'm definitely going to take some time off, and then I feel like I need to get on the practice court and hit a lot of balls and actually work on some things. I feel like my game has been pretty static. I don't think there's been a great deal of improvement since really -- since the clay. I'm not too sure, to tell you the truth at the moment.

Q. But Tashkent?

TIM HENMAN: I wouldn't rule it out a hundred percent. I think it's unlikely.

Q. Is there a sort of staleness do you think or what?

TIM HENMAN: I mean, my performance today was very, very flat, I think probably because I was playing so badly that I didn't really feel like there was anything to get fired up about. I was trying to dig my heels in and stop things slipping away from me. I could never actually do that with the way I was playing.

Q. You mentioned your ranking at 5. It's got to be - I don't know if the word is difficult - but looking at the top four, they're dominating like a top four hasn't in a long time. Any four, before Sampras pulled out, could have won the tournament. Is that extra motivation next year?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, when you talk about the four, those four guys, no question, there is a gap. The way I'm playing, there's no way I can sort of look at their standard at the moment. But I know that the ability I have, if I don't start knocking on their door, knocking on these sort of tournaments, then I'm wasting something. It's definitely my nature to make sure that doesn't happen.

Q. Before today, were you thinking that you might have been that much closer to the level of the top four?

TIM HENMAN: I'm always capable of that. On any given day, I know that I can beat anyone. That was obviously a long way off today. I don't think I should start looking at that right now. I need to get back to the basics and start putting things right.

Q. Any explanation as to why you consistently seem to lose to people that are ranked 50 to 100? Is it difficult to get motivated?

TIM HENMAN: No, it's not motivation. I think for sort of long periods this year, I felt like, you know, my performance was much more consistent. I was playing to a high level. Today was back to --.

Q. Is this as bad as the experience in Australia?

TIM HENMAN: Who cares whether it's worse. It's a really disappointing loss. That's the bottom line of it. If I am going to be better, I just can't let these sort of performances happen. You're always going to have bad days and you're always going to lose, but I don't think someone of my ability, I don't think you can really lose in this nature.

Q. Any chance of a residual effect after Wimbledon semis, you're up a set (inaudible)? I guess since then things haven't been that good?

TIM HENMAN: No. I think then you're looking into it a little too deeply. I'm still a good player. I played horrendously today. No, I've got to go back and work hard. I think it's not as simple as that because I think it really has to come from me. There's no one else in this situation that can probably help me. I've got to find that from within myself.

Q. Was there a bit of a letdown from that high point of almost being in the Wimbledon final?

TIM HENMAN: No, I don't think so. It's disappointing at the best of times when you lose. Sure, semis at Wimbledon is another disappointing time to lose. You know, I wanted to come to the States and have a good summer hard court season, but that hasn't happened.

Q. Tactical problems? Mental problems?

TIM HENMAN: I think it's definitely mental. My game hasn't changed. It's still the same game that's won me tournaments and beaten some of the very best. I think it's probably -- it's between my ears.

Q. Playing devil's advocate, probably set myself up to get my head chewed off. The exciting period you have going in your private, personal life at the moment, does that have any bearing on what's happening on the tennis court?

TIM HENMAN: Who knows? I would say that I wouldn't have thought so. You know, I can't change that. Sure, I'm very excited about that. You know, there's no reason why I still can't concentrate and play good tennis. That's definitely not happening.

Q. I know you have other concerns right now, but any thoughts on Pete dropping out of the tournament?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it's a very tough situation for him. I'm sure he said enough. I didn't actually hear what he had to say. For a guy playing the way he was, to be in his home country playing in a major, tough to pull out under these circumstances, I'm sure is disappointing.

Q. What about Rusedski? He's a person with a good result last week. Do you give him a better chance with Pete out?

TIM HENMAN: In a Slam, it's a two-week tournament, a lot of things can happen. No one was expecting Pete to pull out. But these things happen. It's up to someone to take advantage of that.

Q. In your mind right now, was today like a blip in the radar, as low as you're going to go and you're on your way back?

TIM HENMAN: I hope so.

Q. Are you concerned this might be a continuation of a downward spiral?

TIM HENMAN: I don't think so. It's up to me to make sure that I don't let this continue. Sure, right now it feels like the lowest point. But I've got to show some character to make sure that I bounce back from it. I'm very confident I will. As I said, I feel like -- a lot of times, other things have been blamed for poor performances. But I want to make sure that there's no one else to blame.

Q. Have you worked with any sports psychologists at all?

TIM HENMAN: I have done in the past six, nine months. Today obviously seems like it doesn't make much difference. Who knows. I need to sit down and have a think about things.

Q. You talk about getting back on the practice court. You recently were engaged. The schedule is quite grueling leading up to The Open. Is it difficult to get out there and work on the basics this time of year with the intensity level?

TIM HENMAN: No, I don't feel it is. It could be another excuse that I want to make or something, but no excuses. I played horrendously. I'm the one that's got to put that right.

Q. Is there any question of having a problem dealing with the pressure of looking at yourself and seeing you're fifth in the world, the expectation that comes with that?

TIM HENMAN: It's not expectation. It's always been there. I don't think I have a problem with that because I've had to deal with it when I was 500 in the world, whether I could make 200 or 100, or whether I make 50, whether I make 10. It's about me. You know, I don't mind what other people -- if people don't think I'm going to be higher, you know, than 5 in the world, that's great. That's their opinion, but it's not my opinion. That's why I feel like with the way things are, I've got to go and put it right. I've got to make the next step. I've got to raise my standards again if I am going to move, continue to move in the right direction. That's why I say, I'm at my highest ranking ever, and I couldn't be more dissatisfied with my game. It sounds strange. Every other sort of highest ranking I've been, I've always been sort of satisfied with things. I think that emphasizes how much I want to continue improving.

Q. Have you found '99 a more grueling year up to this point? An emotional Davis Cup right in the middle of the season, more grueling?

TIM HENMAN: I don't think so. You look at my position this year, you look at the points I've accumulated, I'm probably in a better position than last year. So, no. Again, I've played probably virtually an identical schedule. I've played a lot on the clay. I played the same schedule in the States. Again, I don't want to start blaming schedules or tournaments or anything. It's got to come from me.

Q. You were talking about the mental side, saying that's what you want to work on. What will you work on?

TIM HENMAN: Good question. I don't know. I'm not sure right now. Obviously, you look -- you know, you look at the top four guys at the moment, and you're not going to put me in the same sentence at the moment with the way I'm playing. I know that I've got the ability. It's finding the right way to use it, and use it consistently. That's not happening at the moment.

End of FastScripts….

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