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January 16, 2009

Jarkko Nieminen


J. NIEMINEN/N. Djokovic
6-4, 7-6

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Will you be ready for people in the corridors of the Australian Open asking you how you did it?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, I'm feeling really good at the moment. Since I came to Brisbane, first of all, I have my best results from Australia. I got my first and still only title -- well, it's not Australia, but I won in 2006 in Auckland.
And still last year I made quarterfinals in Melbourne, so I always used to play at one of those tournaments well.
This year I stayed healthy during the off-season and prepared really well, and I was really looking forward to come here again and defend my good results.
Now I have played five matches, and all these matches have been really good, like high-quality matches. Obviously I had an easy day yesterday. I got walkover.
Anyway, today I just came to the court with the attitude that I had nothing to lose. I lost so many times against top 10 players, even during my best year, which was 2006. I was close to be top 10.
I won a lot of other players, but then always lost against top 10 players. This time I just, yeah, I just played point after another and didn't think about winning or losing. I just enjoyed every moment out there and I felt from the beginning that I have chances to beat him.

Q. How much homework did you do on his game?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, I have seen him playing so many times, so it's not -- I didn't have to do too much homework. Obviously he's not that confident at the moment that he was in the end of last year. He lost early in Brisbane.
But, still, yeah, I just tried to play aggressive, and always when I could play aggressive game I could play well and control those points. Then when I stayed too passive then he was controlling the game.
So just he was doing some -- hitting some unforced errors from the forehand side, so I tried to stay aggressive and keep the ball to his forehand side.

Q. Did you go out with a premeditated plan to attack his forehand, or did you detect it during the match?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: No, I was planning, because he has one of the best backhands on the tour, so I tried not to be afraid of that. But, still, I tried to hit to his forehand. He just really -- in some stages of the match it was really windy, and I think he was missing, that's why I was missing more forehands than usual.

Q. You mentioned his confidence. Were you surprised at the lack of confidence?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: Well, it's tough -- well, yeah, tough to say. It's better to ask him. Obviously it's in the beginning of the year. Even if you are 3 in the world everybody needs matches, and he had only one win this year.
So I think it doesn't matter if you're top 10 or top 100, everybody needs matches and wins under your belt at least before going to Melbourne.
Yeah, it's better to ask him. Like I said, everybody needs wins.

Q. This is your ninth ATP final, but you've only won one so far. What do you have to do to beat David Nalbandian tomorrow?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: I think we played at least ten times. I beat him few times and he beat me many times as well. We always had -- at least many times we had good, tight matches. Obviously he's playing great tennis this week.
Like I said, I have to stay aggressive and play my best tennis again tomorrow to beat him. But I'm really looking forward to play in another final.
Like you said, this my ninth final and I only won once. At least I did it once, so I don't have the pressure anymore to win the first one. It would be nice to win another one.

Q. Beating Djokovic, where do you rank that in terms of your career wins? Is that your best, do you think?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: It's really close. I can't remember if I beat -- at least I beat some top 5 players before, but not too many, and not top 3 players. This might be my best win, and it makes it even better that it was in the semifinal stage of the tournament. Top players usually get better during the tournament.
Like I said, 2006 I won a lot of the matches and I was 30, and that's the best. But I had problems to beat the best ones, and that's what I wasn't top 10 in the end because I wasn't able to beat them.

Q. It's a pretty good lead into Melbourne, isn't it?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: It's perfect. Like I said, I had a lot of points to defend. I just enjoyed to come here again, because I feel that I can -- like many years I have played my best tennis here. Seems I'm doing it again this year.
To get this many wins before going Melbourne is perfect, and my body still feels good. I'm not too tired. Obviously yesterday helped a lot. I had just an easy practice and then I heard only like two hours before the match that I'm not playing, so I had a very easy day so I could recover from the other matches. The weather wasn't too hot either.
Yeah, I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and then we'll see in Melbourne.

Q. What does "sisu" mean?
JARKKO NIEMINEN: That's a Finnish word. It's tough to translate. I think there's many meanings, but it's kind of not giving up, these kind of things. You have to Google the word. It's a bad translation. It's not giving up and these kind of things.

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