Novak sends rival over Finnish line

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Published: Wednesday 1st July 2015 by The News Editor

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Defending champion Novak Djokovic paid tribute to the retiring Jarkko Nieminen after the world number one inflicted a straight-sets defeat on the Finn in the Wimbledon second round.

Nieminen, who reached the quarter-finals in 2006, will hang up his racket at the end of the season and his final appearance at Wimbledon took just an hour and 32 minutes as Djokovic eased to a 6-4 6-2 6-3 win on Centre Court.

Djokovic, who will play Australia’s Bernard Tomic in round three, took a moment to congratulate his opponent as they met at the net, while 33-year-old Nieminen kissed his own fingers and touched the Wimbledon grass during an emotional send-off.

“It’s his last Wimbledon, I have had a very nice relationship with Jarkko for many years,” Djokovic said.

“When I was coming into the professional tennis as an 18-year-old, I was playing some challenger in Helsinki in Finland, that’s where I met him the first time.

“Ever since then he’s been very kind to me. He’s one of the nicest guys on the tour that I know on the court and off the court.

“In the present moment, maybe you are not aware how important it is, it’s a milestone for him, it’s his last match in Wimbledon.

“I’m sure he wanted to enjoy it a little bit so he deserved the ovation.”

Djokovic had to play through the hottest day ever at Wimbledon with the Met Office recording a nearby temperature of 35.7 degrees Celsius.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Djokovic said.

“People were talking about it and predicting really difficult conditions but I didn’t find it as difficult as I thought it might be.”

Tomic will provide a tougher test, although the powerful 27th seed has never beaten Djokovic in the pair’s previous four meetings, which included a Wimbledon quarter-final in 2011.

“I expect him to serve well,” Djokovic said.

“And I do expect him to mix up the game, come up with a lot of variety. That’s what he does.

“He’s got a lot of talent in his hands. He can play flat shots. He can play short slice, come to the net.

“He has a very quick motion for the serve. It’s very difficult to read it on grass.

“This is the surface that he loves playing the most on so it’s going to be a difficult match.

“I remember in 2011, we played against each other and it was four tough sets so I’m not expecting anything easy.”

Published: Wednesday 1st July 2015 by The News Editor

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