April 20, 1999
Q. That must be a bit hard to have played so well for so long, get so close, then have nothing to show for it?
TIM HENMAN: Exactly. It's disappointing. It's a tough match. You know, I obviously played really, really well. To come so close and to lose is very disappointing.
Q. Do you think that's as well as you've played against such an experienced clay court player, certainly in recent years?
TIM HENMAN: I think all my matches now - I didn't have much to compare with them - but definitely the way I played against Porta last week. You know, my standard now in the second week is I don't know how many times better than I was playing even after the French and six or seven weeks last year. It's difficult. It's a little bit like when I lost to Courier. I feel that I have to be -- you know, feel very optimistic. That's difficult after you just lost. You know, you want to win those types of matches. But I know my game on clay is hundreds of times better than it has been.
Q. After coming back in the first set from Love-2, winning the first set, then the final set coming back from Love-2, then getting the match point, you were looking then a very likely winner, even before you got the match point. When it came to that, what was your approach to that?
TIM HENMAN: I feel like sometimes when I want to win a game, that's when I don't play my best. I can be a little bit impatient. And I think the attitude that I've got to have - and when I play my best I do have - is I've got to earn it. You can't just take, you know, reckless risks. You know, the first game of the third set, a couple of unforced errors. But then once I get the right mentality, I work the points out. Likewise on my serve, shouldn't just stand up there and hope to hit an ace; I should be looking to make first serves and using my volleys. You know, the vast majority of the time, I was doing that. But, you know, match point, I think having missed the return at 15-30, I was obviously anxious to make him play. But I think moving a long way around to hit a forehand, it probably gives him a big target to aim at. On match point down, I think that's perhaps what you want. You know, he still hit a good forehand, but maybe it would have been wiser to have actually played a backhand that way. I don't know.
Q. You missed an easy overhead smash at the end of the second set. It's a smash you never would have missed on another surface. We had the impression it was something psychological about it.
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, sorry. I apologize for that.
Q. I'm just asking you.
TIM HENMAN: No, I apologize.
Q. You had a very good spell during I think the middle of the match, you were getting a high percentage of first serves in. Do you feel that that really put the pressure on him, gave you a chance of winning the match?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah. Definitely. I felt, again, when I say I want to win games, and I should earn games, earn points, I think early on I'm going for big serves, and margin for error is a lot less. I think from 2-5, all the way through to the tiebreaker, I probably only missed maybe one, maybe two first serves. You know, I'm picking my spot, but I'm making those first serves and going to use my volleys. That's the attitude that obviously is very successful for me. So in the future, I've got to keep those percentages higher.
Q. Have you spoken to Edberg lately about serve-and-volley tactics on clay?
TIM HENMAN: Not really. I think he was obviously a guy that was very successful employing those tactics. I think perhaps a little bit more relevant is the way Krajicek has played in the last couple years. I remember watching him last year where he made I think quarters or may have even been semis. That's the type of game that I realize that I've got to learn to play. I think also take into consideration the type of player that I've played, Porta and Meligeni.
Q. (Inaudible) serve-and-volleyer in the draw?
TIM HENMAN: Exactly. Or perhaps a guy that hits a ball with a little less topspin. It goes to show I can compete against all of them. I want to take advantage of maybe a few opportunities that come my way in the next few weeks.
Q. From what you remember from last year, how does the pace of this court compare with the others on the main circuit going to Paris, which is normally a bit quicker?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, likewise the last two weeks, you look at Barcelona this year compared to last year, last year it was like Roland Garros, and this year it was like Hamburg. Again here, it's the same ball they used in Barcelona. It's very, very heavy. Fingers crossed for a couple of lighter balls in the next few weeks. It depends on the weather a little bit as well. Yesterday when we were playing doubles, it was hot and definitely plays a bit quicker.
Q. Do you enjoy playing on clay or is it still sort of a part of the year that's there?
TIM HENMAN: You know, last year I really felt it was a development, you know, an improvement time of the year. But, you know, again this year, I wanted to improve my game as I did last year, take it to new levels. But I really feel that I'm obviously very ready to win. I'm really enjoying the practicing, and hopefully I've got a lot of matches to play.
Q. David was saying after a performance like that, a good run in a clay court event is just around the corner. You must believe now that after the last few weeks you can conquer it, it's no longer a surface that you need --?
TIM HENMAN: -- to fear so much? Absolutely. I think last year I could be a little bit intimidated. I was very inexperienced. I still wouldn't say I'm experienced on clay. But, yeah, as I say, I need a little bit of luck, a couple of opportunities to come my way. I feel very ready to take them. So there's no reason why, you know, I can't have a good run in some of these tournaments coming up.
Q. Do you wish, as a youngster, as a very young player, that you'd had opportunities to play on clay more and develop on clay? Do you think that might have cost you in some other ways?
TIM HENMAN: Perhaps. Yeah, for youngsters coming up, I think it is the surface you should play as much as you can on. I think you look at the way the Spanish guys have come up to not necessarily dominate the game, but the reasons why there are so many of them. I think you learn to play on this, and perhaps barring grass, you'll be able to play on anything else. I think it's much easier to adjust your game from playing on clay to play the quicker surfaces rather than the other way.
Q. When you were a kid, how old were you before you actually set foot on a proper European clay court?
TIM HENMAN: 11 or 12.
Q. That early?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah. It was one of my first trips, went to Holland and played a clay court tournament. But then I played some Juniors, but I think pretty rarely. And then my last year of Juniors, I played a lot, played a lot of matches. I think at different stages, I've made big improvements. But definitely that year was one of the biggest improvements I made. Then when I did start, it was one of the things that David was very big on, was playing a lot of satellites on clay. It wasn't a time that I had my best results, but I think it was definitely the time when mentally and tennis-wise my game did progress a lot. It did that last year, but I think this year I can take it to a much higher level.
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