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July 6, 2006

Jarkko Nieminen


THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Jarkko Nieminen.

Q. Talk about the challenge of playing him on grass as opposed to playing him on clay. I know you played him in Barcelona. Is it a different challenge on the different surfaces?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think I was -- he was serving pretty well, so put a lot of first serves in. That's more difficult on grass than on clay.
I think otherwise his game is more dangerous on clay. But he's playing really well on grass, too. It's really surprising.
But I already had seen him playing before here, so it wasn't surprise for me. But when he came first on grass, I thought he is not that strong, but he's really playing well on grass, too.

Q. People thought that it might be a while before he could win on grass, partly because of his serve. He hasn't been broken now in three matches. How is he making that happen?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think he puts a lot of first serves in. On grass, you gonna have to serve aces or so hard to win the point.
I returned really bad today, so many times I hit short and then hit strongly the second shot, and he's already like in the point. He can control the point after that, the second shot.

Q. How do you feel after this match, and do you have any regrets, something you could have done better?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No, I feel, I mean -- of course, he's tough opponent, and he is playing well. But at the same time, I'm disappointed how I played. I think this was my worst match here.
I mean, after playing well here, it's a great achievement to be in quarterfinal. Would have been nice to play also well in quarterfinals. But, I mean, you can always lose and win, that's different thing. But the most important for me is to play well. If you then lose or win, that's a different thing. But that's just -- I'm not happy how I played today. There was many things that I did worst than in the other four matches.

Q. But does Rafa let you play your game?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No, of course, it's difficult. But there was many things that are not even -- I mean, he can't even affect like my serve. I served really bad today. That's nothing, I mean -- that's up to me, how I serve. I didn't serve well.
So of course the other game, sometimes he doesn't let you play your own game. That's a different thing. But some easy shots, some easy volleys and returns, serve, I didn't do well today.

Q. When he broke you in both the second and third sets, he seemed to use the towel a lot while you were preparing to serve. Did that affect you in any way?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Not really. I didn't mind. I didn't even notice that. I just concentrate on my own game. I didn't know. Didn't bother me at all.

Q. He does take a lot of time between points, though? Agassi remarked on it. Does that affect a player against him?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, it's for me, sometimes I'm too fast. I don't know, many times I think I'm the guy who is too fast there.
So I don't know how much really -- how much time he took. So comparing others, he's taking a lot of time. But, I mean, wasn't a negative effect to me. I don't know what the other players think, but I didn't even think about that. I just sometimes it's me who is very fast. So if it happens even against other players that I am the first player to start serve, I don't know.

Q. So you would have no complaints about any of his activities out there today?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No, no, no. Not today, no.

Q. Do you think it's possible that you didn't play so well because you were aware have of who your opponent is?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, that's -- I mean, tough to say. But it's best of five, so at least I should have played better in some stage of the match. Maybe I started worse because of that. It's quarterfinal and maybe I tried too much.
But then there's lot of times you adjust the game. There was just few moments I was happy how I played in the second and third sets, few games.

Q. Did the rain delay bother you at all?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No. I think I played a really tough match the round before. Rafa Nadal had a easy day, like 3-Love win. I think it was me who got the advantage from that.

Q. Seems to be a popular view that Federer can't lose this title. Do you buy into that?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think he's a strong favorite. It seems that he's playing even better. Like I thought three years ago that he was playing perfect grass court tennis, but it seems that he can even play better and better. This year he has been cruising to the semis.

Q. From what you saw of Nadal today, from what you know about Nadal, is he a potential rival for Federer in the final, serious rival?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: You always have to beat him, he gets so many balls back, so it won't be easy for anyone.
But Roger is playing so well at the moment, and so well on grass, for me, he's still a very strong favorite.
But you never know. That's a different thing, final. If they meet in the final, it's like a revenge from France. May be mental things which can affect, but I think Federer is still very strong favorite.

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