Bjorkman Ready For Federer Challenge
Wednesday, 5 July, 2006
Jonas Bjorkman says he intends to savour every moment of a match he really didn't expect to be playing this Friday - the men's singles semi-final against Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
Of course, virtually every fan, pundit and fellow player sees Federer as just about unbeatable right here, right now, but Bjorkman can at least harbour hopes that their clash brings back memories of a much earlier meeting.
In his press conference after his quarter-final victory against Radek Stapanek, Bjorkman said: "It's a dream come true to have the opportunity to play the Wimbledon semi-final against the best player in the world right now, a player who's probably going to be the best ever."
But as Bjorkman recalled, that's not an opinion he has always held. "I practised with him when he was 16 or 17. He semi-tanked on the practice. I thought 'Jesus what kid is this? He's not really ready'.
"I thought he would take the opportunity to practise with me and enjoy it. Then one year later you see this unbelievably talented, mature guy. He's just the perfect number one we can have, both on and off the court."
Bjorkman talked about the emotion of the finish against Stepanek: "It was very emotional because obviously I didn't think this was going to happen at this stage of my career right now.
"I was just so excited after I won the match point. I realised that I have achieved something that I never thought I would do again. So it's just the best possible feeling I have inside me. It's just the greatest moment for me."
Asked why he is suddenly making such an impact in a Grand Slam singles at the age of 34, he said: "I wish I could know. I'm not really sure but I guess having [coach and former doubles partner] Todd Woodbridge around me makes it good. He won nine times here in the doubles and made semis in the singles. He maybe has something magic around him that makes it possible.
"But if you asked me two weeks ago, I would have been happy just to come through the first round. Now I am sitting here going to play semis.
"I have just been trying to enjoy every single moment out there because I know I am not having too many Wimbledons left in me. I am just trying to do my best and have a lot of fun out there."
Written by Barry Newcombe