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April 25, 1999

Tim Henman


ATP: Questions, please.

Q. Olivier, if you could just go through the actual teaming up process when you had no doubles partner. You were in the locker room, were you just casting about asking for a doubles partner?

TIM HENMAN: He's got no friends, so (laughter).

OLIVIER DELAITRE: That's true. He's the only one.

TIM HENMAN: I just felt sorry for him.

OLIVIER DELAITRE: Well, no. I was supposed to play with Golmard, but we try to play with some French guy, but all the French, they team up together. So when I arrived at 11:15, I saw Tim. He said, "No, no, I don't play." I saw his coach. "Sure, he doesn't want to play. I'm going to ask him." Finally he say, "Yeah, let's play." I ask for the wildcard from Patrice, we got the wildcard.

Q. You actually signed how long was it before?

TIM HENMAN: You don't have to sign in to get a wildcard.

OLIVIER DELAITRE: We signed, but I didn't know I got the wildcard until 12 noon because before Patrice say, "We don't know, we decide at 12." The sign-in was closed. If Patrice didn't get any wildcard for us, I couldn't sign anymore. I get the wildcard the last minute.

Q. To both of you, are you surprised or just happy? You seemed to gel fairly quickly. You played so well.

OLIVIER DELAITRE: He's good, this guy (laughter).

TIM HENMAN: I think we're both, yeah, very pleasantly surprised. Playing on clay, I haven't played a great deal of doubles on clay. It is different. But, you know, from the word "go" we seemed to understand each other's games well.

OLIVIER DELAITRE: I beat him at the French, so I know his game. Easy match (laughter). Respect, a little bit. It was a long time ago.

Q. How many different people have you won titles with?

OLIVIER DELAITRE: Every time I play first time -- well, not every time, but most times, if it's the first time, I win the tournament.

TIM HENMAN: He's done it like six times.

Q. Can you think of other people you've done that with, won titles playing with them the first time?

OLIVIER DELAITRE: Six or seven maybe, yeah. Six or seven times, yeah.

Q. Does that mean you're not playing together again?

OLIVIER DELAITRE: No, no (laughter).

Q. When will Fabrice be fit? Do we know?

OLIVIER DELAITRE: Hamburg. But if I don't win Hamburg, I change (laughter).

Q. From your point of view, Tim, how beneficial has this actual time on clay been, do you think?

TIM HENMAN: I hope it has. I feel I've been practicing a lot away from the doubles, as well. I do feel as if I'm playing well. You know, as I said yesterday, just to be practicing in match conditions, I think it's always -- it can only be beneficial. Winning is always a good habit to be in.

Q. How did you get here?

OLIVIER DELAITRE: I left home on Saturday at three p.m. I got on the plane; I still didn't have a partner. I was supposed to fly to Nice but they sent the plain to Toulon. When we arrived there, we had to wait for one hour on the plane because there were too many people in the airport so we couldn't get off the plane. I was with my wife and children. We had a two-hour bus ride to the Nice airport. When we got to the Nice airport, we took an official car. We got onto the freeway, there was an accident. There was a car on fire in the tunnel. We had to wait three-quarters of an hour. We got to the hotel where we reserved two communicating rooms. They said, "I'm sorry, we don't have any communicating rooms." We took a suite. Then we went to the restaurant because we hadn't eaten yet. We were told that restaurant closed at 11 p.m. It was 11:15. On Sunday morning, when I came to the tournament, I asked for a scooter. They gave me scooter No. 13. At 11:15, I still didn't have a partner.

Q. Do you prefer right or left?

TIM HENMAN: On clay, I prefer the left. I struggled in Barcelona, I thought, when I played the right box. In our second match, I played left. I thought I returned much better. You know, I just feel much more comfortable on the court now. Hence, I think I was returning pretty well by the end.

Q. You beat Tim in five sets at the French.

OLIVIER DELAITRE: When I was young.

Q. Two years ago, it wasn't that long ago. Do you think he can now make strides in clay court tennis?

OLIVIER DELAITRE: Yeah. You know, he has a good game so he has to make a small change from the serve and from the spin of his baseline game. He has the shot to play on clay. He's mentally and physically strong. Edberg play well on clay, so he has quite the same game. I think he can play good. But physically you have to be very strong. After, you can do everything you want.

Q. When you played him at Roland Garros that time, does he seem more confident on the clay now?

TIM HENMAN: I was injured.

OLIVIER DELAITRE: He was injured, yeah (laughter). My ranking was going down and down, so I didn't play so good.

TIM HENMAN: Again, I felt sorry for him (laughter). I gave him some bonus points.

Q. Where will or might you play doubles on clay with Olivier?

TIM HENMAN: I don't know. Depends. I asked him to play in Hamburg, but I suppose it depends on Fabrice. I think Fabrice's first tournament back after injury, he should take it easy, just play singles (laughter). He doesn't want to overdo it.

OLIVIER DELAITRE: I call Fabrice yesterday, and I don't say what he said yesterday.

Q. Oh, go on. Give us a clue. Was he happy you were doing so well?

OLIVIER DELAITRE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I only play most of the time doubles. If I can play good without Fabrice, it's more pressure for Fabrice when we are playing good, and he's playing singles and doubles. It's the best pressure. He's happy when I play good, yeah.

Q. If you don't play Hamburg, your ranking will be right up, is there any chance of you playing with anyone else other than Olivier?

TIM HENMAN: Perhaps. I'll see. It's not right at the top of the list of my priorities, obviously. Yeah, I'll have a look around.

Q. There's one obvious player.

TIM HENMAN: Yeah, if Greg wants to play, we could. I'm not too fussed either way. I don't know whether he wanted to play this week or not.

Q. He could do with matches, couldn't he?

TIM HENMAN: Yeah. As I said, I think it's benefitted me. If he could play a few more matches, then I think it would help him.

End of FastScripts....

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