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May 11, 2006

Tim Henman


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. He's a bit ordinary on clay, isn't he?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, in those types of conditions he's just hitting the ball so heavy. His margin for error is still big, but I just -- I also know that, you know, my style of game can and will give him problems, but I think realistically not playing in those type of conditions.
Q. Chilly in the evening?
TIM HENMAN: When it's so heavy like that, I'm having to force a lot of my shots, and my margin for error is not the same and, therefore, I'm going to make mistakes.
You know, it can't be any slower than that but, still, when I'm hitting the spots on my serve, you know, I feel like I'm going to be able to either serve and volley or dictate with a second shot. But, you know, the second serve basically starting the point because it's so heavy. You know, you're getting into baseline rallies, and right now he's the best at them.
Q. And some of his improvisation, the sort of flick shots?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, yeah. I think that's an area where he's improved, I think, especially off his backhand. I think he was always a little bit restricted on his follow-through, and now he gets a lot more rotation and, therefore, he's getting a lot of power from a very short space.
Yeah, he hits some great passing shots when you think you've got him on the defensive.
Q. What's the worst thing about playing him, the best thing that he does?
TIM HENMAN: I think it's his forehand. You know, it's not necessarily that he just hits an outrageous winner, but, you know, it's two or three wrong-footing shots and then, you know, he opens up such a big gap that, you know, he can hit his third or fourth shot into the opening. You know, on these types of surfaces where you haven't got a sure footing, it's difficult to play against.
I think it just goes to show when he's playing the other traditional out-and-out clay courters, it's so difficult for them to compete because they're basically playing him at his own game. I think he's better than them.
Q. He's talked about the desire to learn about grass court tennis, not that it's much different now anyway. But he's obviously playing Queen's for the first time this year.
Q. How do you see his chances? What do you think will be realistic expectations?
TIM HENMAN: I don't know. It's going to be interesting to see how he adapts his game because there are variables. Obviously, he'll still move well, but I don't think he'll move as well on a grass court as he does on a clay court.
But, you know, any time that you hit the ball that heavy, you can be effective on any surface. I think the big factor is he believes he can play well. A lot of these other guys, they don't give themselves the chance and, therefore, I think that's their loss. But I'm not going to say too much about it because I think some of them could play quite well. If they don't want to turn up, then it's good for us (smiling).
Yeah, just is. I think likewise, when I was starting off on clay, I knew that it was going to be important for my game and it was just a challenge, and it's benefitted massively. I think it will help areas of his game and it will make him a better player.
Q. You started off very focused, very determined, concentration. Then, unfortunately, one of our colleagues with a camera seemed to blow that.
TIM HENMAN: I thought he was going to run on the court, which was a bit unfortunate.
Q. How unsettling was that?
TIM HENMAN: Well, I was just about to hit a second serve. I honestly thought he was going to run on the court. He suddenly was in between the two cameras.
I still don't think I should miss many serves but...
Q. Norm got a bit of a verbal volley.
TIM HENMAN: It's poor from Norm's part. I served the 15-All point at 1-2 on my serve in the second set. Rafa hits a return winner, but I wasn't sure if the serve was in. I said to Norm, "How was it?"
He had a look, didn't say much. Then I was back at the baseline, I said, "How was it?"
He said, "It's good."
If he says it's good, he obviously sounded pretty sure about it.
Lo and behold, I get around the other side of the net, and it's an inch out. It's his job, if he's not sure, to get down and check it. So the difference between, you know, potentially winning a point and being down 15-30 is not ideal.
Q. There are times where you walk off the court with 6-2, 6-2 and think, "Okay, I deserved that." Today, was that not quite a reflection?
TIM HENMAN: I just think, you know, I played some good stuff, but it probably is a reflection really in those types of conditions. It's putting me in a situation where I'm just having to, you know, force so many of my shots.
And, you know, with sort of the technique that I have and the way, you know, hitting the ball so much flatter, it's tough enough to play like that on any surface, you know - on the other surfaces rather. But, you know, when it's that heavy and that cold and the balls are sort of softish, then, you know, it probably is a fair reflection because, you know, I probably made the unforced errors to put myself in trouble.
Q. You hit more winners.
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I mean, that's the way, if I'm going to have any success in that situation, that's the way it's going to have to be. The games that I won and the opportunities that I had, I missed a backhand volley to go 5-3, and you can't, you just can't miss those types of shots against someone like him because every opportunity can be crucial.
Q. You've only played him once on clay, you've played him twice overall. I mean, is he the best player you've ever faced on clay? Can you even make that assessment on one match?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I mean, I just think he is, yeah. I mean, his record speaks for itself.
I would like to play him at the French, you know, if it's a little bit quicker, just to feel like I could attack his serve a bit more and get a bit more out of my serve. I'm not saying the result would be, you know, any different. I would just like to put him in some difficult situations because that's important. It's easy for any of us to, you know, play when you're in the lead, but, you know, if you stay with him, 1-All, 2-All, 3-All, 4-All, then opportunities can arise. You know, he's just not giving people that chance at the moment.
Q. Still not playing anything this week or the week after?

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