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Jarkko Nieminen Blogs From Zagreb

Jarkko Nieminen© Jarkko Nieminen

Thursday, February 2, 2006   

I've just finished my second round match here in Zagreb. I was beaten 2-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(0) by Russia's Mikhail Youzhny.

Obviously it's disappointing to lose 7-6 in the third but at the end of the day a loss is a loss. I won't be more upset just because it was a close match that could have gone either way. It would be more painful if I had blown match points, but that didn't happen. Youzhny played great in both tie-breaks and I give him credit for that. I had been 6-1 this year in tie-breaks going into today's match, so my record had been good.

After any loss I usually try to do something to take my mind off the match. If you just go back to your room you'll just keep thinking about the loss and you can get too negative. Of course I will reflect on the match and try to analyze what went wrong, but after a loss - particularly a painful one - it's often better to think about it after a few hours. If you start analyzing it too early it can be hard to find the positives among the negatives.

Generally after a loss I try to stay active and later today I'm sure I'll go to the gym to do some exercises. And of course I'll need to book my morning flight back to Helsinki. As a tennis player you never want to buy a non-changeable ticket! You could be out in the first round on Monday or still be there at the end on Sunday. Whenever I can I fly with Finnair as they are one of my sponsors. My wife is in Helsinki at the moment for the Finnish Badminton Championships. Matches start tomorrow so it will be good to see her play.

One thing back home that is proving amusing at the moment is talk about how American TV talk show host Conan O'Brien looks so similar to our President Tarja Halonen. I don't see a great similarity myself but a lot of people do. But the whole affair has been pretty funny and handled in good spirit and it's been a good promotion for Finland. Conan is going to come and visit soon, which should be a lot of fun.

Thanks for reading my blog this week. I hope you enjoyed it.


Wednesday, February 1, 2006  

Well, good news to report. I found two saunas back at the hotel last night!

Today I watched about a set of the Youzhny-Zib match to prepare for my match against the winner on Thursday. I've seen both of them play before so I didn't feel that I needed to watch the whole match. But I like to go in with my tactics in mind and watching a little today will help. When you're scouting your next opponent's match you try to blend into the crowd and not make a big scene. I don't know whether either player knew I was there watching. I know that when I'm playing a match I wouldn't notice if another player was there.

After watching some of the match I went into the city with a Finnish friend. He's been studying in Budapest for four months and came to Zagreb by train. It was my first time to the city and we stuck on the main street. There were some very impressive buildings, including the Zagreb Cathedral. I found some Finnish chocolate - which is the best in the world! - and I tucked that away to have later in the evening. We caught a tram home from the city.

I heard that some people were interested to learn that I was a fan of the TV series 'Lost.' When I first became aware of the series I thought that it wouldn't be very original; after all, there have been so many movies about plane crashes and people getting stranded on an island. But I got addicted to the strange things that happen on the island. And the large cast of characters also makes it compelling. At first you thought some of them were bad, but as you learn more about them you realize they have a good side too.


Tuesday, January 31, 2006  
A day off today after yesterday's three-set win, so I took it pretty easy.

After breakfast I went to the hotel gym to lift some weights, which is something I try to do two or three times a week. I don't work with heavy weights; just lighter weights I incorporate into some exercises.

I practiced and then had a massage on-site. I'm going to go back to the hotel now and ask if they have a sauna. That's one thing I always look for when I'm traveling and I really miss when I'm not at home in Finland. Many of the good hotels have a sauna and the tournament hotel here in Zagreb is very nice, so hopefully they'll have one.

Today I watched a little bit of the Mario Ancic-Dmitry Tursunov match. I was interested to see how many spectators came out to watch. It was pretty packed. And it was a good match too. I also watched some of the Gasquet-Sanguinetti match.

Tonight I'm going to watch some of the TV series '24.' I have my DVD in the room. I'm really looking forward to the new series. In Australia I watched the TV series 'Lost' on DVD which I got as a Christmas present.

On the way to Australia I was planning to sleep a lot but I got so addicted to 'Lost' I just kept watching episode after episode. I watched the whole season in just three days. It's a very popular show in the US and the second season has started. So I'm really looking forward to getting that on DVD at some point. The end of the first season really kept you hanging.

Tomorrow my plan is to walk around the city and then watch the match between Youzhny and Zib. I'll play the winner on Thursday.


Monday, January 30, 2006  
I got through a tough three-setter tonight against Potito Starace, who his a very talented player. You're always happy to get through the first round at any tournament. The courts are really fast here and he was serving well. I had played him once before, have practiced with him and had seen his matches, so I knew his game well. Other times if you don't know a guy that well you will ask other players or coaches about his game. I always try to have a game plan worked out going into a match.

It was the last match of the night session so I knew it was going to be a long day. I practiced at 11.30 in the morning on center court with Kenneth Carlsen to get a feel for the court, which I had not hit on before. Then I did my normal stretching and I ate some pasta for lunch at the courts around 1.30.

It was then back to the hotel and I was planning to take a long nap but I started to listen to some music and I really got into the book I'm reading. I probably got through 70 or 80 pages before I told myself that I had to put the book away and get some sleep. I slept for about half an hour and then called the site around 5 o'clock to check on the progress of the matches. Because my match was a 'followed by'' and not a "not before'' you always need to play it safe in case someone twists an ankle early in a match.

Then I picked up my iPod and went for a walk outside for about 20 minutes. I just walked a few blocks to take in some of the local sites. At indoor tournaments you often spend your entire day indoors in the hotel and the site, so it's important to get some fresh air when you can. Then I headed to the courts and had some salad and pasta for dinner around 6 o'clock.

Because I play the winner of Youzhny and Zib - who don't play till Wednesday - my next match won't be till Thursday, so I'll have some time on my hands the next couple of days. I'll try to have a look at the city on Wednesday. Often you're in the best cities in the world and all you see is the hotel, the site and the airport, so when you get a chance to take in the culture and atmosphere of the world's great cities I like to do it.


Sunday, January 29, 2006  
I'm happy to be here in Zagreb for the first PBZ Zagreb Indoors. I arrived Saturday and although there must be a lot of potential problems involved with staging a new event, things seems well organized.

After the Australian Open I spent just one day in Finland before moving on to Copenhagen, where I practiced with Kenneth Carlsen, who is also here with me in Zagreb. Why go to Copenhagen to practice? That's where my wife Anu, who is Finland's No. 1 badminton player, practices. I had played a lot of tennis in January, reaching the quarters in Adelaide, winning Auckland and reaching the third round of the Australian Open. So I needed a couple of days rest before picking up the racquets again.

There was a big reaction in Finland to my title in Auckland. I was the first Finn to win an ATP title. They showed the final live on TV in the middle of the night. But my wife didn't get to see the match because she was in Copenhagen at the time. The first she knew of it was when I woke her up in the middle of the night with a phone call.

Today I woke at 8.30 and after breakfast I watched the last two and a half sets of the Australian Open final between Federer and Baghdatis. Then I went to the hotel gym to do some rubber band training and stretching. Then it was back to the room to listen to some music and to read a little. I'm reading a Finnish book about a murder and big investigation in Finland that spreads south.

I had my first practice today with Carlsen and soon I'll practice again with Mario Ancic. As you can imagine he's very big in Zagreb this week after being part of Croatia's winning Davis Cup team. There's lots of posters of him in the city.

I play last match on Monday night against Potito Starace. If it's a real late finish my next post may be Tuesday morning.


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