J. Nieminen Interview - Day 7
Monday, 3 July, 2006
Q. Can you talk about what you know about the way the match finished?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: When he got point penalty in the end. I didn't notice anything. I was just asking that are these new balls. The umpire said, Well, yes. And he got point penalty. I was like, Okay. I didn't see anything. I didn't hear.
Q. But you don't know why?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think he well, when he I don't know. Somebody said that he said something to the umpire, but I can't say anything because I didn't see anything. So it's better to ask an umpire or someone who saw it. I didn't see it. I was very surprised. But there's nothing I could do. It's 15 Love, yeah. Just play the next point. But I don't know what happen.
Q. How do you feel about reaching that stage of Wimbledon when it's the first time in your career?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, it's amazing. This is at least for me, if I have to pick one tournament I would like to win, it's Wimbledon. So it's means really a lot. It means a lot to play well here. This is now second time in quarterfinals in Grand Slam. I did it last year in US Open. So it's at least I have a little bit experience from the second week in Grand Slams. Yeah, I'm really satisfied that I'm, first of all, survived to the second week. And now I'm still looking forward to play next match.
Q. If I'm not mistaken, Nadal has just won. That's who you're going to face.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, well, he will be very tough opponent. He doesn't give one easy point. But I played him I played him once in Barcelona. I had 6 4, 4 1. I was up 6 4, 4 1, so at least I have some kind of weapons against him, maybe better than someone else, because he hasn't lost a match on clay. I wasn't that far from winning. I didn't win, but, still, 6 4, 4 1 is I pretty good lead. Obviously, clay is his best surface. But he seems to play really well on grass, too, so it will be very, very tough match. I just try to recover as well as I can tomorrow, and then I will have to fight a lot on Wednesday.
Q. How do you recover?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, just I won't practice too much tomorrow. Just hit a little bit and eat well, drink a lot, take massage and, yeah, I think I'll be fine.
Q. Four hours and one minute on a very hot day. You getting a little tired? Were you able to just rally yourself in that fifth set?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think I was really tired in the end, I have to say. I was just fighting against myself that this is I mean, you can't give up. Just fight and fight. I was really frustrated in the beginning of fifth set after losing after two matchpoints. I think somebody said at 6 5, when I was serving for the match in the tiebreak, we hit 42 times. So there was lot of chances that he could miss, 21 shots. So I was getting really tired, but I was now I'm very happy that I was able to keep fighting and finally I won the match.
Q. The French Open, a huge disappointment for you. How long did it take you to recover from that illness? Can you speak about the disappointment of having to leave the tournament that way.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: That was really big disappointment for me because this has been my best start of the year. I won my first title in Auckland, and I have played really solid on hard court. And then I started well on clay, too, like a quarters in Barcelona, almost beat Nadal, then semis in Munich. Then I got sick for the first time. That took some energy from me for the next weeks, and didn't play that well. And then got second time sick before France, and it got even worse before the tournament. I was fine like two days before, so that's why I wanted to play. I was really looking forward to play well in Roland Garros. So it took a while, but I just had to accept that I have to look forward, not backwards. This was coming fast after French Open. So I had to prepare for grass court season.
Q. Television has shown an incident where your racquet ended up in the crowd. Talk us through what happened there.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, that was really, really I was really scared after that. Like I'm very I'm usually very calm guy. If I'm angry on the court, it's only to myself. I'm like sometimes maybe definitely if it's close call, but I'm usually angry to myself. That's what happened now. I was just like I did once before, just like I was swinging, try to swing the air, like just frustrated. And then I was sweating so much, so my racquet slipped. And then it went like big bounce and went over the fence. I felt really bad after that. But it wasn't meant to be like that. I was just, like, frustrated and swing the air, and then sweating so much...
Q. So you actually hit someone, did you?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No, no. I asked about ten people over there, did it hit someone. They were like laughing and said that we are all okay.
Q. Do you think the umpire should understand this kind of situations?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I mean, it's dangerous situation. It's like it wasn't meant to be like that. I mean, it's I mean, I would never do that like. So it's tough, tough situation for umpire. It could have been dangerous if the racquet hit someone. But it's I don't know, 'cause I didn't when it happened, I was like really scared. It jump over the fence. It went there. After that point, I was so calm during the fifth set, like I was not actually I don't know if it helped me, but I was so scared that that happened, so I was very calm until the end. Didn't say anything, I wasn't frustrated anymore. I just kept fighting and, you know, I focused well all the time.
Q. But you would think the warning was unnecessary in this kind of situation? I mean, everyone understands.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, it's... Well, I think the umpires, they have rule. If something goes to the crowd, they have to give warning. So the umpire, I said to umpire that it wasn't meant to be like that, and I really apologize. He understood, but I think they have to give point.
Q. Many top Juniors, one year, two years, bang, they're into the Top 20, playing top tennis. Your career has been so gradual to the top. Why has yours been so much longer in the making than other players?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, first of all, I finished school in Finland. I finished school in 2001. So I already I won boys' US Open 1999. Many guys, they already started to play professional tennis, but I kept playing tennis, competing, and at the same time I was in sports school in Finland. So I could compete and then I do the school at the same time. So that already took maybe one extra year. But I felt that I wasn't mentally and physically ready for the professional career, so I wanted to finish the school and at least then I had something ready if something happened somewhere, you get injured or whatever. Then, I don't know. Then, yeah, it has been like solid career. Every year has been if you take my injuries, if you don't look my injuries, otherwise I have been improving all the time. I don't know. I just keep working hard, and it pays off well. I just keep improving all the time.
Q. What was the score in the game with the racquet incident?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: That was in the beginning, in the fifth set.
Q. Do you think the longer the match goes, the more chances probably you have, because you are able to stay calm and kind of handle the pressure a little bit better than some other guys? Would you say that about yourself?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, I would think I'm mentally pretty strong. But I was I have to say that now I was getting also tired. I don't know about him. But I was yeah, I felt that at least I just keep fighting and I stay calm and hopefully I can win the match. But when it's 6 All in the fifth, you never know who wins. It's tough to say.
Q. Over a hundred meters, who's faster, you or Rafael?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I don't know. We have to try (smiling).
Q. C'mon, guess.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I don't know because I haven't tried. I can't say that. I wish I could say time. But he's well, if he's running after the ball, he's maybe faster.