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September 12, 1999

Jarkko Nieminen

U.S. OPEN, Flushing Meadows, New York City

ITF: Questions, please.

Q. How tough was it to get yourself back after he played a pretty good tiebreaker at the end of a very good first set?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah. In the beginning of the whole first set was difficult, difficult to play for me. It was so difficult, rhythm. He was serving so well and hitting hard. Like in his service games, I couldn't hit so many groundstrokes. It was so difficult.

Q. What were you thinking going into the match? Did you think you had a good chance or did you think he was such a strong player?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, I knew that I have some good chances if I can play my best because we played against each other just the week before.

Q. What happened then?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: I lost in three sets.

Q. Do you consider this your biggest win so far?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, it is, for sure.

Q. How much Satellite and Challenger men's tennis have you played?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: I played two Challenger and one Future.

Q. Where are you on the ranking?


Q. What is the current state of tennis in Finland?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: It's not so big sport in Finland. Every money, all the money goes to winter sports, ice hockey. It's quite difficult to start to play tennis in Finland. We have long winter. We have to play indoors.

Q. Are you already in the Davis Cup team?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah. I'm just leaving tomorrow, then a few days at home. Then after that, I'm going to Davis Cup.

Q. To Sardinia?


Q. Can you talk a bit about that last game? He thought there was a ball that was long, lost concentration. Then you had a foot fault or two foot faults. Was it hard to keep your concentration and close it out?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: A little bit. It was 30-Love. I was, like, a little bit thinking already, "Okay, two more points and that's it." I was a little bit too passive after I just put the ball back. He was really hitting hard. 30-All. Then the one hit - I don't know - I couldn't see. Yeah, it was very tough, mentally tough. I was 4-1 down. I was already like, "Now or never." I started to play better. Suddenly, I was leading 5-4, serving for title. It was difficult.

Q. Is that something that in a lot of your matches you battle back well?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah. I have noticed, too, I'm playing better when I'm down. I don't know. Somehow it's easier - nothing to lose. The opponent is maybe a little bit too passive.

Q. When you had breakpoints against you at 4-1 in the final set, did you still think you could win it at that point or had you sort of half given up the match?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: It was only one break, so I still was fighting. In the first set, I had a few breakpoints. He made, like, I don't know how many aces on my breakpoint. It was hard to break his serve.

Q. What is Veli Paloheimo doing now?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: He's playing in Germany in the summers, and he's coaching.

Q. In Finland?


Q. Are there any Finnish journalists that come to your events?


Q. You'll be in trouble with Rita Narhi for saying that.

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah (laughter).

Q. Will you continue to train in Finland, then, for the next year or so?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah. Sometimes I go to Sweden. I'm playing a lot of tournaments. I try to practice before tournaments and after tournaments. If I'm staying in the winter, if I'm staying at home, it's difficult. We have fast carpet indoors.

Q. How did you get the tennis bug and how old were you when you started to play?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: I was like three or four.

Q. Why tennis?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: My parents, they were coaching. I went to the court.

Q. At the end of the second set, there was quite a point where you managed to return a smash that he looked like he was going to put away. Did that give you a real boost?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, it was a funny point. I had like two choices. I did the right one. Yeah, it was like maybe a little bit (indicating). He lost his serve first time. Maybe it was like - I don't know how to say.

Q. What are you going to do about the foot faults?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah, I did like -- the day before in quarterfinals, I did a few. When I really try to serve harder, wide serves on advantage side, I used to do too many. Like now on match point, I tried to serve like even bigger serve. That's why.

Q. Where do you go from here? What are your plans? Are you going to play more Juniors, the Orange Bowl?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Before this tournament, I was saying that this is my last Junior tournament. If I do really well here, then I might continue to do some tournaments, Orange Bowl. If I'm playing much tournament in US before Orange Bowl, I can play Orange Bowl.

Q. This is your last year you can play in the Juniors?


Q. If you were to get into the Top 50 in the world on the men's Tour, do you see yourself getting people more interested in tennis in Finland?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah. We really need like someone who gets into Top 50, like we had in the beginning of '90s. We had three players in the Top 100. Everybody started today. Paloheimo, Rahnasto, and Arhunnen (ph). His best was like 48.

Q. How good can you be, do you think?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: I have said that my goal is like Top 50. Doesn't matter.

Q. Top 50?


Q. Whenever?


Q. When you get Top 50, you'll want to go higher?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: That's right.

Q. Do you feel you're ready now for playing on the Tour? You just said you were probably going to do that. You watched the main draw. Where do you see yourself at now?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think I'm almost ready. I don't know the difference between men's and juniors. The skills are not so big different - I don't know how to say - you can see like juniors who has played more men's tournaments, they are playing a little bit different. If you have one breakpoint, they really go for it. I don't know.

Q. Are there any other young players in Finland that could be good or are you the only one?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Now it's getting better again after a few years. That's the problem, like comparing Sweden. We have like one, two or three really good players, can do really well like in international tournaments. In Sweden, they have 20; we have two.

Q. Do you know what the population of Finland is?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Five and a half.

Q. About the same as Sweden?

JARKKO NIEMINEN: Yeah. In Sweden they have like eight.

End of FastScripts....

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