March 24, 1998
KEY BISCAYNE, FLORIDA
Q. Well done.
TIM HENMAN: Thanks.
Q. Terrific win.
TIM HENMAN: Thanks.
MIKI SINGH: 6-4, 6-4 winner today over our No. 2 seed Petr Korda. He's advanced to his fourth quarterfinal of the year. It's the second time he's beaten a No. 2 ranked player this year. He'll play the winner of Kiefer and Kuerten.
Q. Tim, at the beginning, you were a break down. You came back. Seemed to be getting a little bit nervous at that stage, Korda. Then he was getting a bit irritated, as if it was sort of getting to his mind. Then the second set, you were up 3-1, Love-30. It looked as if you were sort of edging there. Then suddenly it went the other way around. What was your sort of reading of the match?
TIM HENMAN: Exactly that. I think to begin with, you know, we're both getting used to the conditions. Definitely wasn't easy today. But you've got to hang in there at all times. I hung in in the first set. I think he was able to hang in in the second set. We both got back on level terms, but in each occasion, each set, I was able to, you know, take the initiative. I think in the first set, end of the first set, I really felt I was getting -- I was playing some good tennis. I obviously took that through to the second set. I was up 3-1, as you say, Love-30. I think at that stage, he was probably making a few unforced errors. If anything, I think I played a little bit cautiously. That gave him the initiative. He started to go for his shots a little bit more. But, you know, I played a pretty good game to get back on level terms at 4-All. You know, then I felt I was able to start putting some pressure on again. I think probably the last game was the best of the match, for more than one reason.
Q. As with yesterday, your actual shot-making was terrific again. Your serving, by and large, was excellent. It was like a continuation of yesterday.
TIM HENMAN: Definitely, a continuation of all three matches that I've played. I think I've got better and better. Hopefully I can continue that for the rest of the tournament. I know the matches are probably going to get tougher and tougher. I'm pleased to be through to the quarters, no question.
Q. After the match, Tim, you put your hand on Petr's shoulder. Can you tell us what the conversation was there?
TIM HENMAN: Just said, "Well done, good luck." I'm sure, you know, he's disappointed to lose the match. I think there's been a lot of attention on the No. 1 ranking. But, you know, if he doesn't do it this week, I still think he's got a few more opportunities in the weeks to come.
Q. Did you get the feeling that he was nervous, more nervous than usual, because of the No. 1 situation?
TIM HENMAN: You'd have to ask him that. I don't know. But I think once I broke back from 3-1 to go 3-2, you know, I felt my game was beginning to lift. I was a lot more confident from the baseline, my serving picked up. Sure, I don't think he was probably quite as focused as he had been. But, you know, I just had to try and take advantage of that.
Q. You swept past Moya and Korda without losing a set. Is this some of the best tennis you've played in your life?
TIM HENMAN: I don't know "In my life." Obviously, I'm playing some very good tennis. I think, you know, under the circumstances of the last five or six weeks where I've struggled with my game, you know, it's great to be back winning and playing the tennis I'm capable of. You know, it's something I've got to continue - not just for a couple of weeks - I've got to be able to maintain these high levels to go to the heights that I want to go.
Q. What about your prospective opponents next time, Tim?
TIM HENMAN: Kiefer or Kuerten?
TIM HENMAN: I lost to Kiefer in Toulouse at the end of last year, a pretty close match. I've never played Gustavo. You know, I'm just looking forward to it. I think beating Korda today gives me a great deal of confidence. I just want to keep that going.
Q. In fact, apart from it being a continuation of the form this week, it was almost a step up from the match you had with him in Doha.
TIM HENMAN: Yeah. I think going into the match, I thought about that a lot. I played a good match in Doha, came up a little bit short. Had opportunities there. I served for the first set and didn't take it. I believe I've got a good chance against anyone. But I think that definitely, you know, added to my belief. When I got my opportunities today, you know, I really was going to make sure that I didn't let up at all.
Q. Been an interesting tournament, fascinating situation, where two Brits are not only going far in the tournament, but playing a part in deciding where the No. 1 ranking is going to go.
TIM HENMAN: That's right. I could be doing Greg a favor. I don't know whether it's mathematically possible.
Q. I think once you walked on the court, you stopped doing him a favor.
MIKI SINGH: Greg has been eliminated.
Q. It had to be a walkover, the way it worked out. Needed Korda's points basically.
TIM HENMAN: Needed Korda's point?
Q. But he needed you not to play.
TIM HENMAN: Strange situation. But, as you say, it's pretty interesting with the guys, Korda, Rafter, Rios, maybe in the next few weeks, Greg, all pushing for No. 1. I think it's very good for the game.
Q. Of course, this will do your ranking no harm at all?
TIM HENMAN: That's right. I think I've been a little bit static, obviously. If you don't win matches, you're not going to move anywhere. It's definitely going to start me moving in the right direction, something that I'll be keen to continue.
Q. Tim, sorry to arrive late. Everything is falling about, as you know, upstairs, including the time in London. Did you feel fairly early on, because you were playing well again from the start, that you needed only a little extra push on your part to win that one?
TIM HENMAN: Yes. He only had an opportunity at the beginning, up 3-1. But I was able to bounce right back and get back on level terms. I thought once I did that, my game definitely went to another level. I started to serve a lot better; I was aggressive; consistent from the baseline. As I said to John, you know, I had opportunities in Doha, came up a little short. But I took a lot of confidence from that match. Today, once I got into situations at 5-4 in both sets, you know, there was no way I was going to let go. Holding serve to love on both occasions I think definitely helped.
Q. And the next one?
TIM HENMAN: Kiefer or Kuerten. I lost to Kiefer at the end of last year in Toulouse in a pretty close match. He's playing very well at the moment. I think a lot of people are expecting some big things of him this year. Gustavo has come through two close matches so far, both 7-6 in the third. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top. At least through to the quarters, watching them do battle.
Q. Do you think you're back in a position now where people are looking as you're the person to beat again in these sort of matches?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I think I'm definitely back playing the tennis I'm capable of. That's a good feeling. But, I mean, you only have to look at the players left in the tournament. You know, this isn't just an ordinary tournament, it's a Super 9 with a lot of the top guys playing.
Q. I think we were in Munich, Tim, at the time you lost to Kiefer.
TIM HENMAN: Probably, yeah.
Q. Can you just tell us a little bit about the game?
TIM HENMAN: I actually played -- probably one of the best matches I've played and lost actually. We played on a really, really slow indoor court. I think I lost 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 or something, something along those lines. It was a good match. But he's a guy playing with a lot of confidence. There again, you know, Gustavo is not going to give in easily, having won both his matches 7-6 in the third.
Q. Haven't played him, have you?
TIM HENMAN: No, I've never played him. As I said, it's nice to be watching them do battle when I'm already in the next round.
Q. Were you surprised at all by Sampras' defeat, particularly the match points, or do you think it's a period now where he might be going through one of those little lapses and then come on strong for the Grand Slams?
TIM HENMAN: Sure. You know, it's been pretty relevant to myself. You know, the last five or six weeks, as I said eight thousand times, you go through those bad patches. By Pete's standards, I think maybe he is struggling a little bit at the moment. Having said that, I still think people in every tournament will still regard him as the one to beat.
Q. You take over the cartwheel role?
TIM HENMAN: I don't know. Don't know if cartwheels is one of my strong points. I'd probably injure myself if I tried that (laughter). Well, no, I was really pleased to finish off the match today.
MIKI SINGH: Anything else?
Q. When was the last time you hit a ball into the crowd to celebrate like that?
TIM HENMAN: Don't know. Not something you really think of. You know, it was a relief, great feeling to have finished off the match in a really good fashion. .
Q. I'm sure you said earlier, but you said the other day that Moya was your best win of the year. Does this eclipse that?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah. Korda is No. 2 in the world, pushing obviously, as everyone knows, very close to No. 1. He's had a great year so far. To beat someone of his caliber is a good win by anyone's standards. I think the conditions were harder today also. Against Moya, the tennis was a little easier to play. But today you really had to work for everything. You couldn't take any shot for granted because of the way the wind was swirling. It was a mental and physical battle.
Q. And the Rafter win, that's pushed back into third place, even though he was No. 2 at the time?
TIM HENMAN: I've got a good record against No. 2's this year.
MIKI SINGH: 2-0 this year.
TIM HENMAN: I beat Ivanisevic when he was No. 2.
Q. I have a notorious memory. I thought that was probably as good a win as you've had at this level of tournament since Wimbledon last year?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, definitely. I suppose I was pleased the way I played against Muster at the U.S. Open. That's another good win. This is something I've got to just continue to try and do on a regular basis.
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