Jarkko Nieminen changed his routine in Kuala Lumpur.
Instead of staying in his hotel room to enjoy a coffee, he took a walk, saw a bit of Malaysia’s capital and sipped his coffee at a place in the city.
Don’t get Nieminen wrong. He wasn’t slacking when it came to practice, and his will to win hasn’t wavered. But the new dad and world No. 141 plans to retire after Stockholm next week, weighed down by the travel and inability to consistently play at his highest level. He was keen to, if only slightly, do things differently during his farewell tour.
“I think I’ve been able to enjoy the weeks even more because maybe I’m not coming back here at all, or at least not as a player,” Nieminen said in a telephone interview. “So if I have some time, I’ll go around and see really where I am.”
Where the Finn has found himself for most of the past 15 years on the tour was inside the Top 50. His fitness, athleticism, return game and backhand were the main reasons Nieminen found success after turning pro, and he was featured in the year-end Top 100 each season from 2001, despite suffering wrist injuries in 2004 and 2009. He reached a high of No. 13 in 2006, and the grinder appeared in three Grand Slam quarterfinals.
He was no-fuss and unassuming, often times unaccompanied by a traveling coach. And you’d be hard pressed to find a fellow pro who speaks negatively about Nieminen, a member of the tour’s player council for four years.