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December 7, 1996

Tim Henman


Q. Can we just have your thoughts on the match first, Tim.

TIM HENMAN: You know, I think from my point of view, it probably wasn't one of my best matches. A lot of the times I wasn't allowed to play some of the tennis I would have liked. You know, the first set obviously, a few half chances here and there, but no one was able to really capitalize until we got to the tiebreaker. And, that's when Boris made some -- created some chances and took them. After that, it's a question of him probably playing better and myself probably not playing so well.

Q. What do you think you learned from the experience?

TIM HENMAN: I think it's a consistency thing. I think when I'm playing some of my best tennis, you know, in the first set, I'm playing solidly, I'm able to stay with somebody of his caliber. It's his consistency. You know, he's probably able to continue playing like that for four or five sets. I think at the moment I probably couldn't do that. There's little areas that I'm sure I'll look at and go away and be able to work on. But, you know, still, having said that, there's a lot to be gained from a week like this.

Q. You played now a number of the top ranked men. How would you rate Boris against them?

TIM HENMAN: I think he definitely takes some beating. I think on a surface like this, where obviously he's so confident in the way he's playing, he's very tough to play against. You just don't -- he doesn't give you too many opportunities. You really have got to create them. A lot of the time on the biggest points, that's when he's coming up with the best shots. That's why he's definitely had the results that he's had.

Q. The way you started, didn't appear to be any sense of being overawed by his presence. You spoke yesterday about him having an aura.

TIM HENMAN: Sure, I was aware of that. Anybody that's been involved in the game knows the results that he's had. I think it goes to show that I believe in my own ability. That I can go out on the court and compete with somebody like that. After the first -- for the first sort of set and a half, I was, you know, still hanging in there trying to create chances. At the end of the day, I think he's better than me. That's the bottom line.

Q. Tim, Boris said a few minutes ago that your backhand could use improvement; that he was surprised you didn't come in more, when he would slam a return, he had you on your heels. What is your reaction to all that?

TIM HENMAN: I think it's a very, very fair comment. That's definitely something that on a court like this when I can serve as well as I can, I think it's an area of my game I need to do more often. I need to serve and volley because it's going to put him under pressure, it's going to give me easier points. There's definitely an area that I can go away and work on. As he said, there were times when I hit pretty good serves. When I stay on the baseline, they come back quickly and I'm on my heels. I think if I could get myself to the net a little bit more, it would definitely help.

Q. Tim, there were a couple of crucial points, the net cord and the first point in the tiebreaker, also the opportunity you had to break him in the second set when you missed the forehand return. Do you think it really would have made a big difference had they gone your way?

TIM HENMAN: One net cord I don't think is going to decide the match. At that stage it was something that was a bonus to him to get an early break in the tiebreak. It just goes to show, I think when I did have any sort of opportunities, you really do have to take them because you know they're not going to come second fast, that's for sure. I don't think there's any excuse. Disappointed. On some of the breakpoints I had a couple of second serves, on a couple occasions I missed them. That's another area that I need to tighten up on.

Q. Besides the considerably healthier bank balance, is there any difference between the Tim Henman that came here and the Tim Henman that's going away from here?

TIM HENMAN: I think, confidence-wise, you look at my two previous performances, probably just emphasizes to myself that I can definitely play with some of the best players. I've beaten people inside the Top 20. I've beaten Kafelnikov. But, I think now I need to really be competing against the very best. That's something you can't just change overnight because you've got to create opportunities to play against the very best. You know, hopefully, if I can do that, the experience I've gained playing some of the best will stand me in good stead.

Q. Was it his power, experience, or a combination of a number of factors?

TIM HENMAN: It's everything. You know, there's obviously his first serve, got a great serve, mixes it up. His second serve, some of the key points, coming down pretty much like another first serve. He covers the net very well. That's just his tennis. And, obviously, he's very experienced. He's played in all the big -- played against all the very top players. You know, physically he's very strong. It's probably something everybody's heard before, but that's his makeup of being such a good player.

Q. Tim, Boris talked about overcoming the pressure in Germany, obviously carrying the German tennis world. You're kind of doing the same thing in England now. Life on the BBC Radio, et cetera. How much pressure is that, and how do you overcome that?

TIM HENMAN: It's not something I pay a great deal of attention to. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm aware that I'm at the forefront of the British game, and we haven't had the success that people would have liked. When I'm on the court, I'm out there playing for myself. I'm not thinking about other people's expectations, the pressures maybe that people might try and put on me. It's not something I'll be able to change. So, I just have to get on with my job. And, that's playing tennis.

Q. Tim, could you just sum up the year for us? You started the year I think 95th in the world and you finished playing the semifinals here. Something you probably didn't expect.

TIM HENMAN: No. It's been a great year. I must admit, I thought coming into this week my year had finished. Obviously with this week, it's a huge bonus. Confidence-wise, you know, I think now I can hope -- I'm going to play the first tournament of the year. If I can work out in the next few weeks, I can hopefully make a good start to '97. That's what I'd like to do.

Q. No resting?

TIM HENMAN: I probably have a few days extra rest. I thought this was going to be a sort of total rest week. Now, having played a few matches, next week, after Tuesday, very important soccer match against the Daily Mail, so I'll probably start hitting balls again maybe Thursday. I'll probably have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.

Q. You played Sampras on grass, which is obviously his best surface. You played Boris on a fast indoor, probably his best.

TIM HENMAN: Muster coming on clay next. (laughter)

Q. You were considered younger and less experienced when you played Sampras. But, was that as tough today?

TIM HENMAN: Definitely, I think, yeah. Becker on a fast indoor court in Germany, it doesn't come any tougher. What more can you say?

Q. Tim, sorry if there this was asked earlier, but for a set and a half you were clearly prepared to take Becker on in all aspects of the game. Was that perhaps the most beneficial thing you can take away from this match, you went into it, you did match it, had chances in the first set to win it?

TIM HENMAN: For a certain period of the match, I was obviously playing some good tennis. It wasn't too much in it. There was no breaks of serve in the first set. We had each broken each other once at the beginning of the second. That's the type of tennis I've got to be able to play consistently. I think the rest of the second and the third, my level dropped, and his level probably stayed the same. With me not playing so well, it probably looks as if he's improving a little bit. I think for a set and a half, I was competing with one of the best players in the world on his favorite surface. Sure, there's positives to be taken away.

End of FastScripts….

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