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January 22, 2008

Jarkko Nieminen


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Two set points you didn't do much wrong. He was just too good on them?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No, I think -- I had also break point at 5-3. He hit a good serve and I hit okay return and he just hit a winner. I didn't do anything wrong there.
And then like you said, first two set points I -- first one I hit a good second serve to the body, so I tried to do the same I did earlier in the game: Tried to play accuracy. But he hit a great second serve straight to my body, and so I hit it wide .
Then next one I think was good serve and I got the return back, but then it was too short. He just played well there. That was very pity, because I felt I was -- I could, during that moment I was controlling the game.
I think I was playing better in the first, and then when he took the set I lost early break in the second. Against him, obviously against anyone, I think it's not great to lose set points and then break down in the second.
But against him you have to hit so many balls, so it's mentally very important. It would have been very important to take the first set. Obviously still, it's a long way to win the match, but I think other sets would have been different. And then it was tough. Obviously I tried and tried, but it's, you know, it was getting tougher.
So then he got the momentum, and the game changed a little bit.

Q. You seemed to rattle him a little bit. You seemed to change the depth of your balls a lot, change the speed and your pace. Is that what you have to do against him?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, that's what I have to do. That's my strength against anyone, changing tempo and changing pace.
Against him, I think it's so tough to play best-of-five and hit only winners. There's not many who can do it, and I don't know if no one can do it, anyone can do it, and then play the same game as him, just run and hit the hard top spins. I think he's also best in the world in that. The only way is to change the game and try to mix up the tempo.

Q. Are you in the best form of your career? How do you compare with other years that you've had good years?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, I think I'm playing my best tennis. Everyone who saw the first set, I think I was playing great tennis. Then, like I said, the momentum changed and it was tough to come back after that.
But still, I feel I'm playing great. I'm physically in better shape than ever, and to start a year like this, finals in Adelaide and then quarterfinals here, it's promising good for this year.
And, well, this match would have been a little bit different if I would have taken the first set, I think.

Q. You said you're in great physical shape. Is that because of your Army service?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I've always been in good shape, but I think maybe I'm -- I'm mentally in better shape now because of that.

Q. Where is Nadal at the moment? What are your thoughts on him in the next two matches?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think he's playing great. You feel like -- when -- I think I had some weapons to win almost any point and any game, but in the long run, he's so good. He gets so many balls back, and when he can go around with his forehand, then it's always trouble.
And, yeah, it's just -- to beat him best of five, it's very tough. I think he's playing very good at the moment.

Q. Is there any particular part of his game that you fancy your chances of breaking down? The second serve, the slice backhand or anything?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, what I managed to do in the first set, I was sometimes played -- I think it helped a little bit that I'm lefty, because his forehand jumps very high. For me, being lefty, it's easier to hit forehand back or change to his backhand.
So I just try to, not to play all the time the same, same tempo with him. I think that's -- then you sometimes have to be accuracy. But, yeah, I think I'm not the best guy to say how to beat him, because I couldn't do it.
Just pity that I couldn't finish the first set.

Q. Do you think this surface suits his game better than the old one?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I don't know. You have better to ask him what he likes, but at least he seems to play really well here, so at least -- this surface suits for him. I don't know how he liked the Rebound Ace before.

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