Tim Henman d. Kenneth Carlsen 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4
ROLAND GARROS: Day 1 - Tim Henman's interview
Q. Sunday play. Are you now heavily in favor of it?
TIM HENMAN: "Heavily" is a strong word. I think I'm in favor of it. I think for, you know, kick starting the tournament on another weekend, I can certainly, you know, see the benefits.
It slightly disrupts the rhythm of playing, then having a rest day, then playing the next day. But I think the benefits are there. So, yeah.
Q. Were you slightly surprised to find yourself pulled out of the hat to play today?
TIM HENMAN: Yes, I was. Only playing six men and six women, I wasn't quite sure who it would be. Yeah, I was slightly surprised. Having been here since Tuesday, I've had plenty of practice, I've been hitting the ball well. If anything, I think it's a good thing for me. There are times when you feel like you just want to get underway, then you're not playing till Tuesday, you sort of get a bit more frustrated, if anything.
It actually, you know, fit in my schedule well.
Q. You're in a nice position in that tomorrow you can almost sit back and watch the Tursunov match, hopefully a five‑setter. Quite an unusual situation, isn't it?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it doesn't happen that often. You know, now I have two days off. I'll do some work physically, but I wouldn't have thought I'll practice tomorrow. Then I have a good hit on Tuesday and get ready for the match on Wednesday. But yeah, it's always a nice scenario when you're done your work and you can watch the other two battling it out.
Q. Obviously pleased today?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I was. It was good. It wasn't certainly the best match I've played. Playing someone of his style, he's not an authentic clay court player. When he serves as well as he does, it's not always that easy to find your rhythm. You know, I felt like I could have finished it in three. I obviously had the breakpoint at 4‑All.
On the whole, just pleased to win, pleased with the way I'm playing, and most pleased with how I feel physically.
Q. The day started out quite chilly at 11:00. Around noon the sun broke through, really did get pretty nice. How quickly does the speed of the court change under those conditions, in your experience?
TIM HENMAN: It does affect it. I think it certainly helps when it's a bit warmer. At the end of the day, it's certainly not going to get particularly quick because the courts are always fantastic here. I think they're the best clay courts we play on. I think the ball is certainly pretty heavy. It helps. It probably moves it from being very slow to slow.
You know, it's one of the aspects I've probably dropped my string tension quite a lot with the way we've been practicing, because it has been so cold and heavy. Then today, you sort of feel like maybe you could have strung it a little bit tighter. It's always difficult to predict that.
Q. Your expectations for yourself, given you were a semifinalist here, do you come into this tournament with a different mindset given what you have achieved?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, it's twofold. Obviously having had that success and having had my best performance, got through to a semi, that definitely gives one self‑confidence. But on the other side, with the struggles that I've had, I feel there are less expectations from within. I'm not taking anything for granted. I'm trying to take the best out of both situations because, you know, putting extra pressure, I've done that in the past, and that doesn't help anyone.
I know that I can play well on this. I'm feeling so fit and good about my game. I just know that it's going to pay off at some stage ‑ whether it's here, Queen's or Wimbledon, who knows. I'll keep doing the right things and the results will come.
Q. Have you ever played a Grand Slam where two guys seem to be far and away the favorites? People have trouble figuring out who the third favorite is.
TIM HENMAN: Probably say it's thoroughly deserved. What, did they win 11 tournaments each last year? Their positions in the game just speak for themselves, how well they've been playing, the nature of their matches. It doesn't necessarily surprise me because they've been that good.
You know, coming into a Slam, it doesn't guarantee them anything. I just heard that Roger got off to a pretty slow start today against someone that he's probably never seen before. You just can't take anything for granted.
We'll have to wait and see. I think it's a final that perhaps people are expecting, people are hoping. It's our job to try and make sure it doesn't happen.
Q. Question about coaching. Saw Roger go a year without a coach, win some majors. You've had different coaches. Do you think the coach/player relationship in this sport is different? Do you think it's overrated?
TIM HENMAN: I don't think it's overrated. I think the relationship is kind of unique in this sport. Also I think a big aspect is it's different for everybody individually. You have to find what works. Some people like someone there 24/7, week in, week out, practice weeks, tournament weeks. Other people, you know, don't want a coach at all. Others, like myself, are probably finding the balance in between.
That's where it can get into I guess some difficult circumstances. At the end of the day, we employ someone to try and, you know, improve our games. But, you know, at the end of the day, we're the boss. It's a difficult balance. Sometimes you might hear something you don't really like, and you think, I might put an end to this. It's a bizarre situation. I don't think that happens in many other sports. That's where it is a difficult balancing act because you want to have respect for them, obviously their knowledge and input to the game. But if you're traveling so much, you have to have a sort of relationship where you can get along. You're seeing a lot of one another at the tournaments and practice. It's not an easy balance.
Q. Do you think you can maximize your talent and potential without a coach in this game? Do you really need someone there?
TIM HENMAN: That's a good question.
Q. Do you need someone there to extract that talent from you?
TIM HENMAN: I guess ‑‑ from a coaching point of view, I'm sure they'd like to say not, that one wouldn't maximize their potential. But you look at the game, how it's evolved. I don't think a lot of the old guys had coaches before, and they still played some pretty good tennis.
It's a difficult one. Obviously some coaches are better than others.
Q. Does starting now, going right through to Wimbledon, six weeks, even for media types, it's a hectic time of the year. Do you take a deep breath, Here we go again?
TIM HENMAN: I love it, I do. I know where you're coming from. It is a busy time. You sort of feel like you want to be fresh going into this stretch.
But, no, it's a fantastic six weeks. You know, I've learnt to enjoy. Obviously, my results have improved here. Really enjoy Paris. Then as soon as I'm finished here, whenever that may be, I'm home. And that speaks for itself.
Q. The runner‑up last year at this tournament is currently on suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. Another player who has done quite well here is on suspension. You know these players. They're friends of yours during the tour in some sense, either you chat with them in the lounge or know them very well. Do players resist talking about players like Cañas or Puerta, whoever is on suspension, because you know them? What is the general attitude that players have about these things?
TIM HENMAN: No, I mean, it's obviously been a talking point with the Cañas case because it was a two‑year ban reduced to a 15‑month ban. I'm sure there's plenty of guys talking about it. Certainly from my point of view, there's lack of knowledge of actually what happened in his case. If it's reduced by CAS, I'm sure there's some pretty good reasons. I think at the end of the day ‑‑ I should probably speak for myself ‑‑ but we're a relatively selfish bunch, we're just worried about what we're doing. We have to get on with that really.
Q. Where would you say your level of keenness is at the moment? You look as though you're keen to do well.
TIM HENMAN: Surprisingly high.
Q. More than they have been? This time last year you were struggling with so many things. There does seem to be a great desire to do well and play well at the moment.
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, definitely. I would say sort of it was a good problem to have two years ago, but I was playing probably as well as I played and my results were as good as I'd had. But I was sort of fatiguing. I think that was a mental issue that perhaps, you know, the number of years were kind of catching up with me of playing so consistently. Yeah, 2005 was just bad news all around. In that period of time, I wasn't healthy, but I just wasn't, therefore, enjoying what I was doing. It's been sort of a long process to kind of come out the other end.
My results aren't where I want them to be. But I know with the work that I've done, and how much better I feel, it's going to happen. So, yeah, I mean, it's a lot of fun to be feeling this keen and enthusiastic and enjoying it as much as I am.
Q. Because you are now No. 3 in Britain, do you look at this period with excitement that you can actually come out of not the shadows, but slightly a bit further back than people expect you. You're meant to be the point man, aren't you, this time of year? Does that change your attitude to these six weeks?
TIM HENMAN: If I look at the previous 12 months, and certainly from the French this time last year through the rest of the year, I only won three or four matches. You know, I don't really feel like it could have been much worse. Now it's an opportunity to take advantage of that. I've been through the process of getting fit and healthy ‑ knock on wood, it stays that way.
Yeah, I'm looking forward to taking advantage of it. I sort of feel like I'm going to start moving in the right direction. As you say, I think there's less expectation from within. I think there is probably less expectation from the outside, as well. You know, I want to sort of take advantage of that.
Q. I read you're playing golf again.
TIM HENMAN: Yeah.
Q. Is that the ultimate proof that you're back?
TIM HENMAN: Yeah, I played last Friday. I actually kind of hurt my neck a few days previously. It was actually the best thing that could have happened. I got on the course, I was thinking, Not sure I should be playing, my neck's a bit stiff. The first eight holes, I was so concerned about my neck, and then I suddenly thought, Actually, I should be worried about my back. I hadn't given it any thought. I thought things were looking up.
Q. What did you shoot?
TIM HENMAN: Played all right actually. 75 (smiling).
Q. How long had you not played for before shooting a 75?
TIM HENMAN: I played in March in Indian Wells, then I played in August before that, so...