The Finnish men’s tennis team, which has historically reached the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup, may face defending champion Canada next. Captain Jarkko Nieminen tells Finland’s recipe for success.
The Finnish men’s national tennis team has already made history twice this year. First by advancing to the Davis Cup group stage and lastly by making it to the final tournament of the top eight countries to be held in Malaga in November.
Finnish tennis icon and team captain Jarkko Nieminen says that reaching the group stage has been a long-term goal.
– The fact that we are among the top eight in the global ball sport is incredibly hard. However, it is one of the oldest forms of competition in which countries have played against each other, Nieminen reminds.
During Nieminen’s peak years, a place in the group remained a dream. Now Finland has a lot of breadth and quality in particular Emil Ruusuvuoren, Harri Heliövaaran and Otto Virtanen in terms of.
Nieminen says that doing the trick now consists of numerous things.
– In H-moments, the players have almost always been able to either stretch, surpass the day’s game condition or at least play at their top level. It has been exceptional. It’s a rare tight team and everyone has a lot of faith in each other, Nieminen lists the reasons for the success.
Confident feeling on the field
Ruusuvuori and Virtanen, who won the singles matches against the United States on Saturday, praised Nieminen’s contribution as team captain.
– It was a safe feeling when Jarkko was on the side of the field. I was able to be completely open and I know that Jarkko gives feedback just like me. He has a big role and we have a good connection, Virtanen opened up about the chemistry between the two to Urheilu.
At the beginning of the Davis Cup week, Finland lost to the Netherlands 1–2, beat Croatia 2–1 and the USA 3–0. Nieminen encouraged the Finnish players from the side of the field.
The days were long and intense.
– Yesterday Oto’s dramatic match was as tight as can be, there was a ten minute gap and Emil started right after. It’s hectic, but I feel surprisingly calm when we come to the field, says Nieminen.
Nieminen, who knows the players well, knows how to read athletes. During the game, he can give tips, but he also knows when it’s best not to say anything.
Like Virtanen, Nieminen describes the atmosphere as safe.
– I always try to find a balance between what the captain should say at any given time. I know the players so well, so I know when to say less, when to say more, what works for someone and what works for another, Nieminen says.
Shall the reigning champion fall
As captain, Nieminen approaches tournaments by following the opponents. He keeps in close contact with the Finnish players and their teams throughout the year.
– There is no concrete working day or working time, but it is continuous. I try to stay on the map, where the game is going, and what the physical and mental situation is. I try to be in touch as much as possible.
Finland will face either Canada or the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. The defending Davis Cup champion, Canada, advanced from its group 3–0 without a goal Felix Auger-Aliassimea mixed Denis Shapovalov. The bet is a place in the semi-finals.
The USA entered Finland’s first group as early favorites, but were left out of the quarterfinals. Nieminen sees that in the future all countries can be conquered.
– Canada continued, even though the number one players were not in the ring. The challenge is tough, but the matches will not change dramatically. If we can play that kind of game, we’ll be a tough team to beat.