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June 29, 2006

Martin Lee


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Tough ask really today for you?
MARTIN LEE: Uhm, I thought I started okay. I think the thing that was tough for me today was the sort of matchup against this player for me. Was quite difficult. I'd never played him before. The way he played is sort of the way I try and play quite, whereas I like someone coming on to me and having a target. It was strange that sort of when I hit the ball soft, he hit the ball soft. When I hit it hard and came in, he just sort of passed me. It was a struggle out there.
But I think the main thing was sort of getting back to that level and getting used to playing those matches sort of day after day. I haven't done it for three years. Played well yesterday. Totally different opponent to the guy today.
Uhm, but, what is he, 25 in the world? I'm disappointed. I had a lot of sort of chances in that first set. Just didn't take them. Missed a sort of -- quite a few short balls, and that was sort of because I knew he was -- he could pass so well, and he sort of -- I probably went for a little bit too much.

Q. Did you actually see him play before?
MARTIN LEE: I've seen him play before, but when you never played the guy in a match, you sort of -- I found out what I could beforehand. His backhand is a lot better than his forehand. But for me left-handed to left-handed, still, uhm...
His forehand's probably worse, but it's still not a bad shot. So, no, it was tricky out there.

Q. What's the plan now then?
MARTIN LEE: Uhm, this is just one tournament in a year for me. I play every week of the year, trying to get my ranking up. I'll be close to 200 now, and I'm looking to get back in the top hundred.
It was a good progress to win a round here, but I know I can go further. There's another 35 tournaments in the year for me.

Q. When is the next one?
MARTIN LEE: Probably going to play two challengers in this country on the grass before I head off to the States. Probably two or three tournaments before the US Open qualifying.

Q. Are you confident that your fitness problems are a thing of the past?
MARTIN LEE: Yeah. Everyone gets a few niggles. My knee was a bit sore today, but that was no reason why I lost today.
It's almost -- everyone I think you play -- I probably played maybe five times in my life where there hasn't been a niggle. But that's the same for most professional sportsmen. And the major ones are out of the way. I'm feeling better and better every week. I had, two weeks ago when I qualified at Queen's and I played the playoff, I played eight matches in six days, so it's a lot of tennis. But that's what -- the level you got to get up to.

Q. Have you set yourself a time limit for when you want to get back in the top hundred?
MARTIN LEE: I'm probably saying a year from now. It may come sooner. I've just got to get into position to give myself chances. Playing against these higher guys, then the confidence and the belief will come back. I know on my day I can beat anyone. I played -- yesterday was excellent. Today, I didn't play that badly. The opponent I was playing was a higher level, and I've got to get to that level.

Q. Presumably, you wouldn't want to rely on a wildcard to get back to Wimbledon next year?
MARTIN LEE: No, I'm sort of -- I'm probably going to be ranked just outside 200 in a couple weeks' time, and I've got maybe another 35 tournaments till next year to get up there.

Q. Can I ask you, was it very frustrating today? I noticed you swore a couple of times, which people sort of frown upon around here, don't they?
MARTIN LEE: Maybe. If under the circumstances I did, I apologize for that. But it's a tough business out there, and you're trying your best and you're trying to get through it and putting all the effort into it. Sometimes you do that.

Q. I'd probably do the same, I should say. I noticed Chris Gorringe was sitting in front of us. He didn't look best pleased. I wondered if you had any thoughts about that.
MARTIN LEE: Well, if I did swear and it came up, then I'm sorry. But we're trying -- in the heat of the battle, it's sometimes out of your control.

Q. You say this is just one tournament in the year, that you're playing most weeks. The fact that it is Wimbledon and the fact that you beat quite a high-ranked player in the first round, that must give you a fair bit of confidence for the rest of the year?
MARTIN LEE: I think sort of the last three weeks have given me a lot of confidence - qualifying at Queen's, playing well here yesterday, and playing sort of okay today.
But, yeah, as I said, this is -- I'm playing nearly 35, 40 tournaments a year, and it's not just about this tournament. I'll be going to the US Open, going there to qualify there. It's all about the whole year to get into the top hundred. It's not gonna happen just in this one tournament.

Q. There are a lot of people who struggle to win even one match here. You've shown on lots of occasions you can win the one. Is it still an ambition to go beyond the second round?
MARTIN LEE: Of course. I think I've made second round here four times now. I'd love to go further. But as I was saying, this is just another stepping stone. I've been top hundred before, and that's where I want to get to, and further.
So I'm very pleased. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't do a bit better today, but I'm looking at the whole picture, and I'm gonna go on and the next sort of six months I want to get a lot better.

Q. Do you feel you're at a level now where you could be looking at Davis Cup again?
MARTIN LEE: Uhm, I haven't thought about it at all. I'm just playing my game and just trying to get better every day. And if it comes, it comes.

Q. You came to the net a lot more today. Was that part of a preconceived plan, or were you just trying to change it up?
MARTIN LEE: No, I think the reason that I came to the net is 'cause I had such a lot of short balls, but he sort of loves someone coming to the -- he loves someone coming to the net. I love someone coming to the net, and I knew he wasn't gonna come into the net too often.
I think I probably just went for a bit too much on those short balls sometimes, but he passed me a lot of times. But in that first set I had a lot of short balls that I missed, and then I started making them and then he started passing me.
So it's quite difficult, because it's so slow out there. To me, it's getting slower every year.

Q. What was the main difference between you and him, the fact that he hit the ball so hard?
MARTIN LEE: No, he didn't hit the ball hard at all. But when I came in, people like that like a target, and they like someone -- 'cause I play like he plays. Whereas if he comes to the net against me, then I'd like a target as well. So it was quite tricky out there.

Q. How important financially has this week been for you? I know you have a few debts.
MARTIN LEE: Yeah, I got to pay a few people that I owe some money, but then it will give me the chance to keep playing. It costs a lot to travel when you have to pay for the hotels and everything when you're abroad, and the flight.
So it keeps me going and it keeps me striving to where I want to get to.

Q. Going to the States and stuff, must be expensive.
MARTIN LEE: It is. Especially sort of at the challenger level. When you get to sort of the tour level where I was before, you get -- the prize money is a lot more and the accommodation you usually get for free. So it's getting to that level.

Q. You're playing to live away really?
MARTIN LEE: Yeah, it costs a lot to be a professional tennis player. I think probably only maybe if you're around inside 200, then you break even or make a bit. But outside that, you won't break even.

Q. What do you do to try and prevent injuries recurring, or new injuries? Do you do a lot more preventative stuff? How do you go about it?
MARTIN LEE: Yeah, I think it's just a question of getting the body used to it. The knee operation that I had was sort of out of the blue and it wasn't a question of me being unfit or anything. It was just a bone grew on top of the kneecap out of nowhere. Just one day it appeared.
And then the groin was just a repair of an old groin operation sort of five years before, so it needed to be done.
But I'm feeling good. No major injuries for virtually a year now, and that's -- I think that's why my ranking has got to 200. And now I can get to -- push to the next step.

Q. You haven't changed your preparation in light of any of that, then?
MARTIN LEE: No, it's just a question of you have to go on the court, you have to do the work, and you just have to try and prevent it by doing all the right stuff like massage, and just injury prevention helps a lot.

End of FastScripts...

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