September 8, 2005
NEW YORK CITY
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jarkko.
Q. You must have thought many times that you were going to win that match, and then in the fifth set he just seemed to come up.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, actually, I felt many times that I -- at least the first time in the first set when I was leading, I thought. Anyway after the beginning I started to feel that I have chances to control the game, but, of course, I had to keep playing very solid and well and I wasn't able to do that in the second set. But then I played well again in the third. And, yeah, I felt many times that I could win this match. Even in the fifth I had a -- suddenly -- I had so many game points. Couldn't hold my serve in the beginning. I had 30-Love, once 40-Love. Suddenly it was 3-Love for Hewitt and I could have been 2-1 for me. Then it's tough to come back when it's 3-Love or 4-Love. It's tough to. I was still trying and fighting, and I had a breakpoint for 4-2 to get it only one break. I couldn't take those important points in the fifth set, and he couldn't take it in the first set. He had also chances to break me but I was able to play those points better. Then he played important points better in the end. But I really felt that I was -- I mean, it was tight match, five sets, and I felt that I could have won, but fifth set wasn't that close in the end.
Q. Heading into the fifth set, what was your mindset?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I was pretty confident. I felt pretty good. I wasn't tired, tired at all. And, yeah, I just wanted to get a good start, because in the second and the fourth set I had a bad start. He took a break me then. I tried to avoid that, but I couldn't. And, yeah, I was still very positive. I had positive thinking. I thought that I was able to win the match.
Q. Normally when you play Hewitt, he's very loud and fist pumps and "c'mon." We didn't hear that for the first few sets. Were you surprised his energy level wasn't so high?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, usually used to hear those. But I don't know, I think he can answer better to that question. I was also a little bit surprised that he didn't feel, I don't know, didn't feel so confident on the court. I don't know. It's better to ask him.
Q. Did it help you?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, it help me. I felt that he's not that confident on the court because he doesn't show those emotions that he's usually showing. And maybe he was little bit surprised after the first, because it went 6-2 for me. But then he started to play better.
Q. Obviously, a little disappointed in the result today. But the tournament overall, what do you take from this tournament?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, it's -- of course now, immediately after a match, I feel like to lose in five sets, it would have been so great to play the semi. But I already have the whole tournament. This has been great for me. Even today to go to play quarterfinals in Grand Slam against World No. - what is he? - 3 in the world, and feel that you are able to win the match and maybe play semifinals in Grand Slam, it's just a great feeling and that's why I have been working hard. Overall, the tournament has been very good for me. I just try to keep it up.
Q. Do you think that the way Lleyton was playing today, do you think it will be very difficult for him to beat, for instance, Federer, playing like this?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, they have played a few times now, and Federer has been better, so I don't know if -- I would say Hewitt has to play his best game, and then it's up to Federer. Because if he's playing his best game at the moment, he's best in the world. But of course Hewitt can challenge him, and it will be a good match anyway. But it depends, depends how Federer plays. If he plays well, he has been unbeatable.
Q. You hit a big backhand at the end of that third set to break him, it was down the line. You went on to win that set. At that point do you think, "I got him, I'm going to win"?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No, at that point I was really, really confident. And then I held my serve quite easy. I think it was a Love game and to go two sets to one. I really thought that now there is still at least two sets. I have still chances, chances to get it. So I was very confident. But I just had a bad start in the fourth set.
Q. Finland is more recognized in this country for winter sports than for tennis. How long does your tennis season last in Finland?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, it's -- we just have long indoor season (smiling).
Q. Twelve months.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: It's twelve months, but we've got a lot of indoors. It's like in Sweden. I mean, the weather is the same. They just always have had either the top players, great players, but the weather is very similar in Finland. So that's not the reason why we cannot have top players.
Q. You say it's similar. What is the weather similar to? You say the weather is very similar in Finland.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: To Sweden.
Q. To Sweden, ah.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, because they always have great players. Still they produce top players every decade. That's why I just wanted to compare it to Sweden because the weather is not the reason why we couldn't have more players.
Q. You were really changing the speed of the game. You said the other day that you wanted to do this. Do you think that that confused him, because some you were hitting not very hard, and then you would hit big forehands.
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, I think, well, that was my tactic. And when I was able to do that, it was working well. Like in the second set, I wasn't moving as well that in the first. And then I started to hit harder. Because I was a little bit late, I had to hit flatter and harder to get the time back. And then it was much easier for him to play. Because before I was moving better, and I'd change the pace and the spin and tempo. It was working well when I was doing that well, but I wasn't able to do that all the time.
Q. After this year, is it fair to say that hard court is the best surface for you? Would you prefer this kind of court?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I like -- many people think that I'm a clay court player, but I have always -- I think that hard court suits my game also really well when I'm playing my best tennis. But I have had pretty solid results last clay court season, so maybe that's why. I played many -- few semis and I won final on hard courts in tour events, and I always have pretty similar results on every surface. I like playing on hard court and I really like playing on clay, too, so...
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