Roger Federer helped send Jarkko Nieminen into retirement with an exhibition match, “The Final Night”. The evening was planned in advance to give Nieminen a chance to say thank you in front of his fans in Helsinki, Finland. Nieminen ended his career on the ATP World Tour after losing to Nicolas Almagro at the Stockholm Open in October. A packed out crowd at Hartwall Arena came to see a night of fun and celebration.
Nieminen and Federer first took part in a doubles exhibition match. Nieminen paired with Helsinki native and former NHL player Teemu Selanne. Federer was paired with Swedish NHL legend Peter Forsberg for the match. To the delight of the crowd, it was the Finnish pairing of Nieminen and Selanne who came out on top, winning the single set match 6-3.
Following the doubles match, Federer edged Nieminen, 7-6 (4) 7-6 (7), in a match filled with entertaining points and plenty of jokes between the two players. Nieminen stayed on court for nearly ten minutes after the end of the singles match as he spoke with the crowd. The Fin expressed his gratitude for the entire evening. He thanked his wife Anu and his daughter for their support. Nieminen expressed similar sentiments for the night, much as he did on his online blog after his final match in Stockholm. Nieminen wrote, “I can say that I have never been happier than I am at the moment. I think that I have always been quite a happy guy and fortunate in my life but I feel that I’m even more that now. I could finish the career on my own terms, totally healthy and still being able to play some pretty good tennis.”
Federer will head to London tomorrow and practice at the O2 Arena, ahead of next week’s ATP World Tour Finals.