Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic pays tribute to Nieminen

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Defending champion Novak Djokovic paid tribute to the 
retiring Jarkko Nieminen after the world No 1 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.

Novak Djokovic on his way to a straight-sets victory over Jarkko Nieminen yesterday. Picture: Alamy

Novak Djokovic on his way to a straight-sets victory over Jarkko Nieminen yesterday. Picture: Alamy

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 35.7C. “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. “

Meanwhile, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios was involved in a heated exchange with an umpire during his victory over Juan Monaco. Kyrgios beat Monaco 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-4 in the second round but the world No 29 attracted attention again for a number of angry outbursts on Court 18.

The most controversial occurred at 6-5 in the opening set when a line judge made a complaint to the umpire after Kyrgios had uttered a string of expletives in response to his missed shot.

An altercation followed as Kyrgios was heard asking the umpire: “Is that a threat?” and “Does it feel good to be up there in that chair? Does it make you feel strong?”

The outspoken player, who made his name at SW19 with a shock victory over Rafael Nadal last year, was asked to explain the incident in his post-match press conference. “I was just asking the umpire what the line judge said. I was just curious. I wasn’t causing any drama there,” Kyrgios said.

“ “I just thought he thought he was top dog in the chair really. He was telling me not to speak to him, all that stuff. It doesn’t really matter, you know.”

Kyrgios also vented his frustration at a group of Australian fans. As the supporters began chanting while Kyrgios quarrelled with the umpire, he turned to them and said: “Now is not a good time” before later telling them to “stop it”.