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July 5, 2006

Jonas Bjorkman


THE MODERATOR: May we please begin by questions in English for Jonas Bjorkman.

Q. Is it possible for you to describe what you're feeling in other than the usual cliches, 'I feel great'?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Could I say it in Swedish (smiling)? It would be easier.
No, it's hard to describe. It was very emotional because obviously I didn't think this was gonna happen at this stage of my career right now. You know, just so excited after I won the point, the matchpoint, and then everything was just coming to you, you know. I realized what I've achieved something that I never thought I would do again.
So it's just the best possible feeling I can have inside me, you know. It's just the greatest moment for me.

Q. 1997 when you reached the semis, very possibly could have made the final that year, did you think, I'm going to be in the semis at least once?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, obviously, I was hoping. I was hoping to stay up in the top and be consistent. I had a great '97, was very consistent. Unfortunately, I learned from doing a few mistakes. '98 I think I didn't take enough time off. I rushed over to Australia, and then once I got to Key Biscayne I was burned out. So if I would have had an opportunity to do it again, I would have have done it different, and then maybe that would have helped at least to stay up there a little bit longer than I did.
But that's history. And, you know, if I can tell some Juniors from Sweden coming up who's very talented, maybe I can help them out in not doing the same mistakes.

Q. What is the secret, though, to your eternal youth (laughter)?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I wish I could know. Just a lot of Advil. I'm not really sure, but I guess having Todd Woodbridge around me makes it good, you know. He won nine times before here and semis, so I don't know. He maybe have have something magic around him that makes it possible.
But you could ask me two weeks ago and I would have been happy just to come through the first round. Now I'm sitting here, going to play semis. It's just almost like a big shock. I been just trying to enjoy every single moment out there because I know I'm not having too many Wimbledon left in me. I just trying to do the best out of it and have a lot of fun out there.

Q. You've had quite a tough time with injuries. Had you thought about what your career had for you after tennis in terms of stopping playing?
JONAS BJORKMAN: It's been a roller coaster the last two years because, obviously, I'm always trying to -- I would like to play singles and doubles. But then singles been dropping a little bit, so after six months last year I felt maybe that was gonna be the last year of singles. Then came through, played a lot of quallies in U.S. and played a lot of matches. All of a sudden I went out and won Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, got my ranking back, obviously a lot more positive feedbacks and energy again. Hopefully, I can have another good year.
A lot of disappointment because I haven't played that good this year. I started to feel that maybe I have to be realizing that I can't keep going for too long, but hopefully I can at least stay around with doubles. And here I am now. So obviously everything is changing because my ranking is going to go up again.

Q. How do you look at the next few days? I mean, obviously, you have the doubles. You're 34 and stuff.
JONAS BJORKMAN: It's a nice age. Tell you that (smiling).

Q. I remember it well. Are you concerned?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Obviously, it's gonna be tough. But what can I say? It's a dream come true to have opportunity to play Wimbledon semifinal against the best player in the world right now - probably gonna be the best player ever. He's a good friend of mine. I practiced with him in Key Biscayne. Peter Lundgren came maybe when he was 16, 17, I practiced with him. Semi- tanked on the practice. Thought, Jesus, what kid is this? Not really ready. I thought he would take the opportunity to practice with me and enjoy it.
Then one year later, you see this unbelievably talented guy, mature guy, I think. He's just the perfect No. 1 we can have I think both on the court and off the court. I'm just gonna enjoy that moment and try to do my best in doubles tomorrow, enjoy this evening, and see what happens on Thursday.

Q. If Max came to you and said, Maybe you want to think about we shouldn't play this and everything, what would you say to him? I suspect you wouldn't go to him.
JONAS BJORKMAN: We have to see. I wouldn't -- I think we'd just go out and try to do the best out of it now and see what happens, do as good as we can tomorrow.

Q. What was your lowest point during those tough times?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I dropped my ranking to 126, something, last year, which was the first time I was out of the top hundred for I think over 10 years. Obviously, it was a time that I had to start thinking about what I was gonna do with my singles, so if I should just keep going with doubles. But then I played nonstop six months and I managed to win a lot of matches. Came through the qualification, which was an unusual situation for me because I haven't played quallies in so many years.
But I think it's got me a lot of strength, a lot of confidence. That's why I managed to play some really good tennis towards the end of last year.
So, I mean, it has been tough, but in the end I been very fortunate through my career because I have never had any serious injuries. So if you look at other players, I been very fortune. I wouldn't put my tough times in the same situations like my friend Thomas Johansson who had knee surgery, serious knee surgery. This year he was ready to get into the top 10. He had an eye surgery. Compared to him, my thing has been very small.

Q. Two-part question, if I could. You're one of the few players to both see Pete Sampras and Federer up close. If the two were playing on a slow hard court, how do you think a match like that would come out?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Some great tennis. Just unfortunate we couldn't see that more often. I think we had a couple matches they played each other. But, you know, would be just superb tennis to watch the two greatest players. You couldn't ask for something better.

Q. If I could follow up, you're I think the only one to play with the two best doubles players, Woodbridge, too. But one of the few to play with the two best doubles players of all time, Todd and Johnny Mac. You had to pick one, up in Heaven's gate and St. Pete says, Who's the best, who would you say?
JONAS BJORKMAN: It's always tough to put anyone better. I think if you look at their records, obviously Todd got all the records to be the best one. You know, I had the greatest opportunity, I had just a magnificent time to play with John in San Jose. Unfortunately, I wasn't around his time to see how good he was at his peak. But obviously I could see a lot of his quality tennis that he still showed in San Jose.
Two great friends on mine. I wouldn't like to put anyone ahead of the other two, you know. They might be upset to me now. So I put them equal.

Q. How do you hold yourself after winning today? What would you do if you beat Roger on Friday?
JONAS BJORKMAN: (Smiling) No, but it was more -- this is the type of matches I think any tennis player wants to be around, you know. It's just the greatest atmosphere out there. You been out there for a long, long time. You had the opportunity to win. Once you win, I just felt I want to hug everyone, you know, let's celebrate. You know, be staying out there for another 45 minutes if I could to just enjoy that moment of seeing all the people standing up, you know. That's something I think everyone wants to achieve and be part of, the whole atmosphere. That's why I wanted to show everyone that I really appreciated all the support through the match and give them a hug from the court.

Q. Todd on board, obviously it took a while to convince him to come and coach you. Why was it so important for you to work with Todd?
JONAS BJORKMAN: Well, I was lucky in a way because Todd was doing the coaching for Thomas in Australia for four weeks, then Todd was gonna do Thomas, he did Thomas here for the four weeks. I just felt at the time that I know my game very well, but sometimes it's good to have someone who tell you the small details, what you have to change.
I asked Thomas, you know, if it would be okay if I can join in. He will be the priority and then, you know, when Todd has a chance, he can help me out a little bit.
So for me, I just felt he has such a strength in his -- through his career, how good he was tactically. He knows my game very well, so technically he knows me inside-out. So I think that was good for me.
We could -- we had a bad loss in Queen's, but then we could work on a few things. I think that's been improving my game. And obviously all my victories, the wins I had in Nottingham, definitely helped my confidence. At the time, I had some good feedback from him.

Q. The only Slam you missed was the 2003 Australian Open because Max was close to being born.

Q. Was he actually born right during the tournament or was it later? Could you have been at the tournament and kept that streak alive?
JONAS BJORKMAN: He was supposed to come out the 31st of December, but then he wanted to stay in there a little bit longer. So maybe I would have had a chance to go, but then he came out on the 15th. So I think it was right in the first week of Australia. So there was a great opportunity to be back home and see the biggest thing happening in my life.

Q. Tendency to kind of rush people to retirement, people here are saying that Tim is coming up to 32 and it's about time he called it a day. Here you are at 34 in the semifinals. What would you say to those who want to push people out of the game probably before their time has really come?
JONAS BJORKMAN: I think we have to look at how the situation -- when you came up. Like Bjorn Borg was 14 and I think he made his debut in Davis Cup and was out -- he finished at 26. But he played 12 years. For me, it took a lot longer time to develop. I was never a good junior. I think Tim was never that good as well. I think we had quite similar junior times. I started to play good at 22.
So if you look now, I've done same time of Bjorn Borg, but it's just the difference of how good you were as a young kid, and then that's why I think Tim has a lot left in his career. He just had a very tough draw this one. I think everyone could have seen him being in my situation if he would have had a better opportunity in the draw.
So he's playing some good tennis, and I think he should -- he should always enjoy it. I think when it's time, then you know it. I don't think we should push too many to quit.

End of FastScripts...

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