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June 29, 2005

Thomas Johansson


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Thomas Johansson. Questions in English first.

Q. Was that easier than you thought it was going to be?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Well, a little bit, yes. I think the first set was very important in the match. I think I had breakpoints in every service game of his. The first set could have been maybe easier, but he's a great player and he was fighting really well. Then in the tiebreak it was really tough. You know, I was lucky to get that last point in the tiebreak when he went for the backhand down the line. But after that, I think I played more aggressive, started to serve a little bit better, and he started to make some unforced errors. I was expecting maybe a tougher match today. But, as I said, I'm playing really well for the moment. So, yeah.

Q. It's been a long journey since Australia three years ago. Is this as well and as consistent as you've played since then, do you think?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, I think so. I mean, it's always tough to play -- to do really well in a Grand Slam because you have to be so solid for two weeks. In Australia three years ago I was playing my best tennis of my life. I think for the for the moment I'm playing as good as I can. I'm very, very happy with the way I played today, especially with the way I was returning the ball today.

Q. Which you'll have to do of course pretty well the day after tomorrow?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think so, yeah (smiling).

Q. Do you feel as fit as you felt? All the problems you've had, are you back to the levels of fitness that you were?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Fitness-wise I'm a lot stronger now.

Q. A lot stronger?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah. Because I had a lot of time to work on my fitness. On the court now I never feel that I'm really, really tired. I just -- you know, I get back to the points really quick. That is very important in tennis.

Q. Was the feeling with the knee injury you had and severity of it that, in some ways, it was always going to be a two-year injury - with the time out of tennis, then the time it takes back to get the fitness and conditioning back in your game?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah. A lot of people, they did not think I was going to be able to come back. But I love to play tennis. And when you're away from the tennis, you miss it a lot. I was working really, really hard to come back and to be able to play tennis against all these young guys that just popped up when I was injured. I remember the first tournament I played after my injury was Adelaide. I was practicing for like five, six days. I did not win one set. I said to my coach, "I think this is it." Then it showed that I was playing -- I was practicing with a winner, the finalist, and a semifinalist all these four or five days. So apparently I was playing really well. But, of course, I'm really happy to be back, and I'm really happy to be back a lot stronger than I was before.

Q. Who were the guys you were practicing with?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I practiced with Hrbaty, I practiced with Dent, and I practiced -- I don't know who it was, Llodra or someone else. I did not win one set. I was not even close. But after that I started to play really well. I went to the quarters my first tournament of the year.

Q. How does David's performance today compare to the one that Andrew Murray put up against you at Queen's?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: It's tough to say because Andrew has a bigger serve than David has. But I think, yeah, David is a little bit more solid from the baseline and also he has a little bit better hands than Andrew, I think. But, as I said before, I was very, very impressed with the way Murray was playing both here in Wimbledon and in Queen's. He destroyed Taylor Dent in straight sets on grass, and that's very, very impressive. I think he has a very good future ahead of him.

Q. How about the conditions here? Do you think it suits someone like yourself? Do you feel comfortable on the grass the way it's playing?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: It's pretty slow, I would say. You could easily stay back, which I do pretty much all the time. But you can also play serve and volley, of course. But I think it's a lot slower this year than it was maybe five years ago. I don't know if it's the court or if it's the balls. For the moment, I'm not complaining.

Q. Appearances on Centre Court?


Q. Your appearances on Centre Court here? When was the last time you played centre?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think I played Roddick or maybe I played Becker. I don't know. I've only been on the Centre Court twice.

Q. What does making the last four at Wimbledon sit in all the circumstances, given the time out of the game you've had? What's the significance of it to you?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: This is one of my best weeks in my life. I mean, Wimbledon has such a great history. I think it's the biggest tournament of the year. And now I'm in the semifinal. I just feel great. I mean, I'm so happy to be able to play the tennis that I did today, and hopefully on Friday I can play a little bit better.

Q. You had a pretty self-depreciating humor in Melbourne when you won the title, you weren't known to a lot of people. Apart from that, was there a part of you that once you got it, you got a taste for it? Having done it once, you could show it wasn't a one-off?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, I think so. A lot of people, they say this is just once in a lifetime. But for me I did not feel like that because I've been in the quarterfinal in US Open twice, and I've been a Top 10 before. I know that when I play my best tennis, I can compete with the big boys. It's just that you have to do it during two weeks in a Grand Slam, and that's very, very tough to do. But after Australia, I know what it takes to win a Grand Slam. And now the last four guys in the draw, we're all Grand Slam champions. It's pretty interesting.

Q. You feel comfortable with yourself with the guys that are there now?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, I think so. I mean, the other three guys that are in the semis, I think they are the Top 3 guys in the world on grass. And that shows it here as well. But I'm happy to be in the semifinal. I think I have a good chance against Andy, as well. It's going to be a very tough match, and I have a lot of respect for him, as well. But I think if I can play my best tennis, I think I have a shot.

Q. How come you dominated David so much today?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: It's tough to say. I've never played David before. So I think he's one of the best players in the world because he can play well on every surface. But I like to play a lot from the baseline. And today the way I was hitting the ball, I felt great. So I could go for my shots a lot more than I maybe used to, especially on my backhand. As I said, I was returning really well. So even when he served well, on his first serve, I got it back. It was a rally from the baseline, which I like.

Q. What sort of impact is this going to have in Sweden? The Swedish public haven't been as keen on tennis in the last decade. Because it's Wimbledon, you're a Grand Slam champion, do you think it's going to have an effect?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I hope so. I hope so. I know they broadcast this match in Sweden. That's one step in the right direction. But, of course, we have so many good athletes in Sweden for the moment. We have good in track and field, we have good in football, we have good ice hockey players, as well. It takes away the focus of the tennis a little bit. But now I've been reading the Swedish papers myself, so I've seen that they write a lot about Wimbledon, and I'm really happy about that. I think that inspires young boys and girls to start to play tennis.

End of FastScripts….

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