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March 23, 2002

Thomas Johansson


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Can you just talk about the match today and how it went for you.

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think I played well today. I was pretty nervous in the beginning because we played each other I think in Rotterdam this year and he killed me that time. So I was a little bit of afraid of going out there. But I think I got on to a good start. He broke back. But then after that, I think I played well.

Q. What was the difference this time as opposed to last time you played him?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think last time he played some really, really good tennis. I played him -- this was, I think, our fourth time we played against each other. In Rotterdam I didn't have a chance. He just blew me off the court. But today I felt the ball really good, and I think in the second set I was serving a lot better than maybe in the first. I got some free points so I think that was the big difference. I think the big difference today was that I was returning well, too, so...

Q. When Jim Courier was No. 1, he used to talk about going into the locker room and players would look at him, their eyes would be on him wondering, "What's he doing? Why is he No. 1? How good is he?" Since you've won a Grand Slam, do you feel those eyes on you a little bit, people looking at you, wondering how good you're going to be this day?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: No, not really. I think I would like to have those eyes on me (laughing). But I don't think I have them. Because, you know, I think every guy knows that I'm working really, really hard, and I don't think they see a big difference. Maybe they see the difference on the court because I play with a lot of confidence for the moment. So I think that's the big difference now. But, yeah, I think Jim was a very -- we are little bit different. Jim had a -- he was a very, very good player and he won a lot of titles. And everyone knew that he was working really hard; he was running with a tire after him, with a wheel and everything. So... But maybe if I win one more I'll have those eyes on me.

Q. Do you think that having that fear factor, as he used to call it, is an advantage for any player?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, I think so. I think that's very important because sometimes when you've been playing really, really well and you go into your first-round match in another tournament, you feel that sometimes the player has a lot of respect for you. So then you have a good chance to get on to a good start. So sometimes that happens, and that's very nice.

Q. Has your life changed at all back home? Do more people recognize you, anything?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah. I think it's changed a little bit. I don't live in Sweden, I live in Monaco. But when I'm visiting, I think it's very nice to see that some people, they come to you and congratulate you for what you've done. I think that's very nice. And I hope that this win that I had in Melbourne can help the tennis to come back a little bit.

Q. In a friendly way, have you upset Thomas Enqvist, who also wants a Grand Slam very badly?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Thomas and I are very, very good friends. When he's playing, I really want him to win. I think when I'm playing, he really wants me to win, too. So I remember when he played the Australian Open, when he was in the final. I was back home at that time. So I was watching all his matches and I really wanted him to win. But I think he made a great, great match even in the final. But Yevgeny was just too good.

Q. He's playing very well right now.

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Thomas is -- I think he's one of the favorites here. I'm never -- I've seen him play really well a lot of times, but now he plays really, really well. He hits the ball unbelievably clean and he serves huge. So I think he's one of the favorites in this tournament.

Q. Can he hit that flat all the time and still win this tournament?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Yeah, I think so. Yeah. He hits the ball very, very hard. Very heavy. Then of course if he plays Lleyton or someone else who can run a lot of balls down, it's tough for him because then he, you know, has to hit for maybe four, five times because they're so quick on the court.

Q. How important was it for you to have a good showing here after kind of a disappointment at Indian Wells?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Well, I think it was not a disappointing week for me because I played a good match against Thomas. He was just too good. We had a lot of matches, and it's always very, very tough. It comes down to some points. So I was very satisfied with the match I did. But I had a tough draw. But the problem is that you have to go for so long, you know. I lost Monday, then I played doubles Tuesday, then I was out. So I had to -- but then it's good preparation for this tournament.

Q. Do you know Jarkko Nieminen?


Q. What do you think of him?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: I think he's a very, very good player. He moves really well on the court. He controls every shot I think. I think it's going to be a very, very nice match and a good match tonight against Pete.

Q. What does he have to add to his game, do you think, to take the next step to the next plateau?

THOMAS JOHANSSON: It's tough to say. But I think in the second year when he was on the tour, he became like Top 60. Last year he made a very good effort in Stockholm Open, went to the finals. Second year, everyone knows you. Everyone knows how you play. Everyone knows, you know, how you hit the ball, so then it's a lot tougher to win the matches.

Q. Did he train with the Swedes? There can't be too many players to train with in Finland.

THOMAS JOHANSSON: Maybe he did. I know he practiced a little bit with Vinciguerra. I know they're the same age. So...

End of FastScripts….

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