The normally reserved Rafael Nadal
had his audience chuckling when describing his physique at the Australian Open.
When asked to compare the state of his body in Melbourne compared with last year's U.S. Open, No. 2 Nadal gave an answer many of his female fans would probably agree with.
"My body is perfect, no?" No. 2 Nadal joked before clarifying. "Physically speaking. Nothing perfect."
Nadal looked in great shape as he downed No. 24 Jarkko Nieminen
of Finland 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 and reach his first semifinals in four trips to the Australian Open.
"This year I started very well. I don't have any problems at the U.S. Open and I'm in the semifinals without losing a set," he said. "Physically I'm very happy. I don't have any problem."
Nadal next faces Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, who beat Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 7-5, 6-0, 7-6 (6).
Finnish Army Life
Jarkko Nieminen thinks a taste of Finnish army life has been a big factor in his best start to an ATP season.
Nieminen, who is on leave from his part-time national service in Finland, was runner up at Adelaide this month before making his first Australian Open quarterfinals, where he lost 7-5, 6-3, 6-1 to No. 2 Rafael Nadal on Tuesday.
"I feel I'm playing great," said Nieminen, ranked 24th. "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."
He said the basic training during the offseason helped improve his mental edge, rather than his fitness.
"I've always been in good shape, but I think maybe I'm mentally in better shape now because of that," said Nieminen, who must complete his army service on his return from the Open.
After losing the Adelaide final to Frenchman Michael Llodra
, Nieminen beat Canadian Frank Dancevic
, Americans Mardy Fish
and Jesse Levine
, and 29th-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber
on his way to the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Nieminen reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2006, propelling him to a highest ever ranking of No. 13.