Miami Open: Carlos Alcaraz beats Tommy Paul to reach quarter-finals, Elena Rybakina through to women's semis
Spain’s world number one Carlos Alcaraz defeats American Tommy Paul in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals of the Miami Open.
Spain’s world number one Carlos Alcaraz defeats American Tommy Paul in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals of the Miami Open.
Karen Khachanov ended his victory drought against Top 10 opponents in style on Tuesday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where the World No. 16 downed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(4), 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the ATP Masters 1000 event.
Khachanov entered the match with an 0-6 ATP Head2Head record against the Greek but produced a confident display full of clean groundstrokes off both wings on Grandstand. The second-seeded Tsitsipas never found his best level as Khachanov’s high-energy performance snapped a 23-match losing streak against players in the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
“They say third time is a charm, but for me it took seven times, so I’m super happy,” said Khachanov after his 93-minute win. “Not most importantly that I beat Stefanos, but I think with the way I’m playing. After the Australian Open, I had some issue with an injury. I came back in Dubai without having played many matches and I’m just happy to continue that level.
“I just want to continue that way, enjoy the process, and enjoy the journey. It continues.”
QUARTER-FINAL BOUND ✅@karenkhachanov gets past Tsitsipas 7-6(4) 6-4 to advance in Miami🌴@MiamiOpen | #MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/qkSFLXI2lM
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 28, 2023
Khachanov fended off two Tsitsipas break points and did not conjure a single one of his own in a first set largely dominated by serve, but the 26-year-old was rewarded for his persistence as he pressured Tsitsipas into a series of backhand errors en route to claiming the tie-break.
Taking the lead appeared to further galvanise Khachanov, whose precise serving offered the World No. 3 Tsitsipas few opportunities to settle into rallies on return. After clinically breaking Tsitsipas’ serve to love in the fifth game, Khachanov showed no sign of nerves as he completed his victory having won 89 per cent (39/44) of points behind his first delivery.
Khachanov has now reached the quarter-finals in four of the six tour-level events he has played this year. That sequence includes reaching his second consecutive Grand Slam semi-final at January’s Australian Open, where he ultimately fell to Tsitsipas. The 26-year-old said staying aggressive to pin the powerful Tsitsipas back had been crucial to engineering his revenge win in Miami.
“I think [restricting Tsitsipas] was the key,” said Khachanov. “Both of us were serving pretty well in the first set… Then I took it to the tie-break, and in the second set as soon as the opportunity came, I had to take it.
“Those conditions are pretty quick, so I think it’s crucial to have the first serve going and the first shot after. I think both of us played extremely aggressive, so whoever took the chance first got the win.”
Khachanov’s run to his maiden quarter-final in Miami has lifted him two spots to No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The 26-year-old’s next opponent at Hard Rock Stadium will be 25th seed Francisco Cerundolo or Lorenzo Sonego.
The first two semi-final spots at the Miami Open presented by Itau are up for grabs on Wednesday in South Florida.
Top seed Carlos Alcaraz will continue his quest for the ‘Sunshine Double’ against American Taylor Fritz, while Jannik Sinner aims to reach consecutive ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals when he takes on Emil Ruusuvuori.
ATPTour.com previews the quarter-final matchups from the top half of the draw in South Florida.
View Schedule | View Draw
After winning his third ATP Masters 1000 crown in Indian Wells earlier this month, Alcaraz has quickly adjusted to the faster conditions in Miami, defeating Facundo Bagnis, Dusan Lajovic and Tommy Paul to reach the last eight.
Chasing his 10th consecutive win, the Spaniard will look to maintain his level and overcome Top 10 star Fritz. The American is no stranger to the big stage, having lifted the trophy in Indian Wells last year. Chasing his sixth tour-level title this week, he produced a ruthless performance against Holger Rune to advance to the quarter-finals in Miami for the first time.
Possessing a thunderous serve and a destructive forehand, the 25-year-old will need both to fire if he is to breach the Alcaraz defence in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
“The serve is always the most important thing. If I’m not serving well, then I’m getting broke and under a lot of pressure on my serve, it’s tough,” said Fritz, who has not dropped a set this fortnight. “Serving well, it just frees up the rest of my game, because I feel like it’s okay if I take chances, miss shots, go for a little bit more because I know I’m going to be getting free points on my serve.”
Alcaraz demonstrated great agility during his fourth-round match against Paul, scampering down every ball to stay in points before using his explosive groundstrokes and deft drop shot to turn the tables. The Spaniard is hopeful he can hit the same heights against Fritz.
“I played a really great match [against Paul] and I hope to play the same level in the quarter-final,” Alcaraz said. “I moved well and defended well and I counter-attacked and I think if I play at that same level, I will have a lot of chances to get through.”
Fritz, who would rise to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if he lifts his second ATP Masters 1000 crown on Sunday, is relishing the challenge the 19-year-old possesses.
“I am really excited for it,” Fritz said. “I think that a lot of people, a lot of people are really excited for that too. We have never played each other. I think it’s an interesting matchup. Obviously he’s playing great lately, and he had some injuries but hasn’t missed a beat. He’s been just on fire.”
Defending champion Alcaraz is aiming to become the youngest player to win the ‘Sunshine Double’. If the Spaniard can defeat Fritz and then go all the way, he will also remain at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Any slip up, however, and Novak Djokovic will return to the top.
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Sinner has produced his best level in Miami throughout his career. The 21-year-old soared to his first ATP Masters 1000 final on tournament debut in South Florida in 2021, before he advanced to the quarter-finals last season.
The Italian has once again looked comfortable at the hard-court event this year, dispatching Laslo Djere, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev in straight sets. Next in the firing line is Ruusuvuori, who is an opponent Sinner has a stranglehold over.
The 10th seed leads the Finn 4-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, and will be aiming for a Miami hat-trick on Wednesday after defeating Ruusuvuori in South Florida in 2021 and 2022. Sinner overpowered the 23-year-old with his flat and aggressive groundstrokes in their previous meetings and will be confident he can do so once again as he chases his eighth win in nine matches.
Ruusuvuori enters his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final off the back of an epic three-set win against Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp. The 23-year-old reached the third round in Indian Wells earlier this month and has built on that run in Miami, defeating Nuno Borges, Roberto Bautista Agut and Taro Daniel at the hard-court event.
Up 17 spots to No. 37 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, the Finn will move to the brink of the Top 30 if he can continue his dream run on Wednesday.
The doubles quarter-final action also starts on Wednesday, when top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski face Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The Dutch-British pair reached the final in Miami last year and will be aiming to go one step further this week as they chase their first title of the season.
The other quarter-final pits fifth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara against Americans Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow. Glasspool and Heliovaara, who won the title in Adelaide earlier this year, are making their team debut in Miami this week.
Photo Gallery: Week 2 In Miami
Taylor Fritz reached the quarter-finals at Miami Open presented by Itau for the first time on Tuesday, overcoming Holger Rune 6-3, 6-4 in the first Top 10 clash at this year’s event.
The American, who had never been beyond the fourth round in six previous appearances in South Florida, was dialled in from ball one inside Hard Rock Stadium. He combined fierce power with consistency to outlast World No. 8 Rune in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
Fritz drove the ball down the middle of the court to cut off angles for the Dane and stepped forward at crucial times, striking 19 winners throughout the 85-minute clash. He has now earned three straight-sets victories this fortnight, having also defeated Emilio Nava and Denis Shapovalov.
“I couldn’t play aggressively in my first two matches because my opponents were hitting every ball as hard as they could. [Rune] still crushes the ball but it was nice to feel I had some more time,” Fritz said. “The first two rounds, it was impossible to play my game, I just had to make balls. Today when I got the chance to be aggressive I was and I just wanted to serve well and try not to give him many free points.”
The World No. 10 holds a 20-5 record on the season, highlighted by his title run in Delray Beach. He will aim to reach his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final when he plays top seed Carlos Alcaraz or countryman Tommy Paul in the last eight.
Fritz arrived in Miami at No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after his Indian Wells title defence was ended at the quarter-final stage by Jannik Sinner. Having been at a career-high No. 5 earlier this month, the 25-year-old is on a mission to rise again and will climb to No. 6 if he lifts his second ATP Masters 1000 crown in South Florida.
“I think my average level of tennis is a lot higher,” Fritz said. “I don’t need to always show up and play my best and if I don’t play my best, that level is higher than it used to be. I feel I can come through and win a lot of matches.”
Rune, currently No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, earned victories against Marton Fucsovics and Diego Schwartzman on his debut in Miami. The three-time tour-level titlist struggled to find his best level at the crucial moments against Fritz, however, converting just one of his six break point opportunities.
Manchester will host one of the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals in September, bringing the competition to the city for the first time in almost 30 years.
If a picture is worth a thousand words the smile on Christopher Eubanks’ face Monday evening was worth a million.
With the American railing ⅖ in the second-set tie-break of his match against Gregoire Barrere, rain forced the players off the court. When they returned after one hour and 55 minutes, the Frenchman won the first point before Eubanks saved five set points en route to a 6-3, 7-6(7) victory for a place in the fourth round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.
How did it feel?
“Really good. Really good. Really good,” Eubanks repeated to the media in Miami.
But it was more than just a win. It signified a milestone that the 26-year-old had been working towards. Eubanks climbed to No. 96 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, and he is projected to crack the world’s Top 100 for the first time next Monday.
“The past few weeks have been really, really tough just because I’ve been kind of thinking about Top 100 and everything,” Eubanks said. “I had some losses that I shouldn’t have [had] and I was really second-guessing a lot about my game and everything.”
Chris Eubanks is now into the top 100 in the @PepperstoneFX #ATPLiveRankings for the first time in his career 👏#partner pic.twitter.com/oxeQ7hl7eQ
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 28, 2023
Eubanks this week decided to delete tennis apps off his phone to avoid looking at the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He had been disappointed with his recent play and set a goal for himself.
“I’m just going to focus on playing every single match and I did that,” Eubanks said before choking up with emotion inside the bowels of Hard Rock Stadium. “Wow, it feels good. It feels good.”
The Atlanta native followed the college route, competing for Georgia Tech from 2015-17 and twice earning ACC Player of the Year (2016-17). He broke into the Top 200 in April 2018, but the Top 100 proved elusive.
In February, Eubanks ascended to a career-high World No. 102, but four consecutive losses proved a roadblock. A three-set loss in Indian Wells qualifying to Maximilian Marterer gave him a bit more confidence that the Eubanks train was rolling in the right direction, and that has played out here in Miami.
The home favourite qualified before ousting Denis Kudla, 17th seed Borna Coric and Barrere to earn his place in the Top 100 and the fourth round of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.
Eubanks admitted he was never the best player in his state, section or the country growing up. But his hard work has paid off and coach Ruan Roelofse was happy to confirm for his charge after Monday’s match that he had made his long-desired breakthrough.
“For him it’s very special of course. You saw what it meant to him on the court,” Roelofse told ATPTour.com. “He didn’t know that it was [guaranteed] Top 100. He thought it was, but I told him afterwards.
“It’s special for me to help him because he’s been playing for a few years on Tour and everyone knows he has the capability of doing it. So to help him get there means a lot to me, too.”
What was most telling was how happy people were for the American. Eubanks has plenty of fans in the locker room and around the tennis world.
During the rain delay, Eubanks spoke in the locker room to Frances Tiafoe, whose match had also been suspended. Tiafoe gave him plenty of encouragement. After the victory, Eubanks FaceTimed with friend Coco Gauff. Others including Darren Cahill, Rennae Stubbs and Brad Gilbert congratulated him on social media. It is Eubanks’ special moment, but everyone is happily sharing in it.
“It’s amazing. He’s an amazing person on and off the court. He’s obviously got a lot of character,” Roelofse said. “People love seeing him play, he’s entertaining to the crowd and personally one on one he’s been great with me. It’s been fun helping him and I’m happy with where we’re heading.”
It is such an emotional moment that it is easy to forget Eubanks is one of the final 16 players remaining in the year’s second Masters 1000 event. A match against unseeded Frenchman Adrian Mannarino separates him from a spot in the quarter-finals.
For now, Eubanks is understandably soaking it all in.
“Damn it’s crazy man,” Eubanks said. “Wow this is weird. Sorry, it’s just wild.”
As the 26-year-old continued providing the media insight into his accomplishment, Eubanks could not help but take a fun jab at himself.
“Why am I crying?” Eubanks asked himself rhetorically. “This is so embarrassing! But no, it feels good.”
A host of stars are in action on one of the most exciting days of the ATP Tour calendar Tuesday at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
All eight fourth-round matches feature on the schedule at Hard Rock Stadium. In the top half of the draw, Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner face off for a fifth chapter of their hard-hitting ATP Head2Head rivalry. World No. 1 and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz takes on home favourite Tommy Paul, and Holger Rune and Taylor Fritz meet in the first all-Top 10 clash of the ATP Masters 1000 event.
In the bottom half, Stefanos Tsitsipas seeks to maintain his perfect record against Karen Khachanov, while Daniil Medvedev takes on surprise package Quentin Halys.
ATPTour.com previews some of the key clashes on an action-packed Day 7 in southern Florida.
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Fireworks from the baseline are guaranteed on Grandstand when Rublev and Sinner meet for the first time on an outdoor hard court. Neither player has dropped a set in Miami across their opening two matches and both have a history of success in the fast conditions at Hard Rock Stadium.
The 2021 semi-finalist Rublev’s powerful serve and sledgehammer forehand will likely be key. If he can hit through Sinner consistently, he will be confident of avenging his 2022 Monte Carlo defeat to the Italian, the pair’s only previous Masters 1000 clash. Rublev will be wary of Sinner’s ability to redirect that power to his own advantage, however, particularly at a venue where the Italian reached his only Masters 1000 final in 2021.
A 2-2 ATP Head2Head series record makes the matchup between the World No. 7 Rublev and the World No. 11 Sinner all the more intriguing. The 21-year-old Sinner was unable to complete either of his defeats in that sequence due to injury and the Italian, who is one of the best movers on Tour, will hope his body this time holds up as he bids for his third Top 10 win of the year.
The World No. 1 Alcaraz seeks to extend his eight-match winning streak against home favourite Paul, but he will be in no doubt as to the threat posed by his 16th-seeded opponent. Paul downed the Spaniard in three sets in the pair’s only previous tour-level meeting in Montreal last August, and Alcaraz is prepared for another stiff challenge on Tuesday inside Hard Rock Stadium.
“He does everything well,” said Alcaraz, who must defend his title to stay at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after Miami. “He moves well. He is fast. He hits great shots. Big forehand, big backhand. He’s going to be really, really tough.”
Paul is enjoying a stellar 2023 but the 25-year-old, who reached the Australian Open semi-finals and the championship match in Acapulco, will need to bring his best to take down the red-hot Alcaraz. The 19-year-old’s all-around game has looked in fine shape across Indian Wells and Miami as aspires to become the youngest man to complete the coveted ‘Sunshine Double’.
The opening act of Tuesday’s schedule inside Hard Rock Stadium sees Rune take on No. 1 American Fritz in a popcorn Top 10 encounter.
Although 2022 Indian Wells champion Fritz has never been past the fourth round, the 25-year-old’s combination of big serving and aggressive groundstrokes is suited to Miami, where the ball skids through the courts at speed. Fritz will hope to disrupt the rhythm of Rune, whose all-around ability has led him to a career-high No.8 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings at the age of 19, in the pair’s first tour-level meeting.
The Dane has excelled on his main-draw debut in Miami, defeating Marton Fucsovics and Diego Schwartzman in straight sets, and he knows how to beat the best at Masters 1000 level — he defeated five Top 10 players in a row, including Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic, en route to the Rolex Paris Masters title last November.
Clinical performance 👏@holgerrune2003 executes some very attacking 🎾 as he moves on in Miami 📈#TennisInsights | @atptour | @MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/DffAhUNijo
— Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) March 26, 2023
Tsitsipas would do well to look to his past meetings with the 14th-seeded Khachanov ahead of the pair’s fourth-round clash on Grandstand. The nine-time ATP Tour titlist holds a 6-0 ATP Head2Head series lead against the World No. 16, with four of those wins coming at ATP Masters 1000 events.
That suggests the outcome of the pair’s fourth-round clash rests on the Greek’s racquet, but Tsitsipas knows he needs to be vigilant if he wants to maintain his perfect record against Khachanov. The second seed’s third-round victory against Cristian Garin was his first match for a month due to an ongoing shoulder issue, and Tsitsipas will need to be serving at full strength in order to nullify his opponent’s sharp return game.
The 2018 Rolex Paris Masters champion Khachanov has gone some way to rectifying his pre-tournament 2-6 Miami record with his run to the fourth round. The 26-year-old has thrived on the big stage in recent times: he reached the semi-finals at the 2022 US Open and then again at the Australian Open in January, when it was Tsitsipas who proved too strong in the final four in Melbourne. Can Khachanov handle a successful revenge mission in Florida?
Medvedev bounced back from his Indian Wells final defeat to Alcaraz in style in his Miami opener. The fourth seed dropped just three games against Roberto Carballes Baena as his relentless baseline hitting seamlessly transferred to the faster conditions at Hard Rock Stadium.
That extra pace in the courts will also suit his fourth-round opponent in Florida, however. Halys charged past Pedro Martinez, Alex de Minaur and Mackenzie McDonald with some devastating serving displays, making Tuesday’s matchup with return wizard Medvedev an intriguing battle.
The World No. 5 will hope to exploit Halys’ relative inexperience at this level. The No. 79-ranked Frenchman had not won a Masters 1000 main-draw match prior to this event, and he will need to maintain his best form if he is to prevail in the pair’s maiden ATP Head2Head meeting. A third consecutive Miami quarter-final appearance is on the line for Medvedev, who is chasing his first title at this level since 2021.
The 26th seed Botic van de Zandschulp aims to back up his third-round upset of Casper Ruud when he takes on World No. 54 Emil Ruusuvuori. The Dutchman has never been past the third round of an ATP Masters 1000 event, while it is a second fourth-round appearance for Ruusuvuori in Miami — the Finn defeated Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev en route to the last 16 in 2021.
The 2022 semi-finalist Francisco Cerundolo looks to back up his third-round upset of Felix Auger-Aliassime against Lorenzo Sonego, while home qualifier Christopher Eubanks seeks to extend his dream run in Florida when he takes on France’s Adrian Mannarino.
Matija Pecotic’s run earlier this year in Delray Beach was an early contender for story of the season. The 33-year-old, who works full-time for a real estate investment company, entered the ATP 250 as an alternate in qualifying, reached the main draw and then eliminated former Top 10 star Jack Sock to reach the second round.
The Croatian’s tennis journey is not over yet. Pecotic has committed to the goal of playing 25 tournaments this year, beginning with the Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship, where he received a qualifying wild card.
“I feel excited and pretty relaxed for now. I don’t know what my match is going to be like. I think it’s really cool that the tournament decided to give me a wild card. I’m not American, I’m not a junior, I’m not signed with some agency,” Pecotic told ATPTour.com. “I emailed the tournament director a couple of days ago and they were kind of excited to hear from me. They said, ‘We followed your story in Delray’, and for them to give me the wild card, big respect to them. So that’s really cool, I really can’t wait to go there.”
The lefty had accomplished plenty in tennis before becoming a finance titan, climbing as high as No. 206 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2015. Now he is excited to give professional tennis another shot.
“I took a couple of days [after Delray Beach] to put things into perspective and asked myself what I wanted to do. I said you know what, too many domino pieces came together for this to be just a giant coincidence,” Pecotic said. “I was looking for a reason to come back to the game and compete again while I still can, and the sequence of events for everything to happen the way it did was like a sign from the tennis gods. The tennis gods have spoken and it’s time to listen, so I’m going to play.”
That does not mean Pecotic is leaving his company. He will still be based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and work remotely while traveling to tournaments.
“The firm seems to be supportive, we certainly got a lot of exposure from Delray and people that I hadn’t spoken to, some of the guys at work, people were reaching out,” Pecotic said. “I have a bit of flexibility and I have two supportive mentors who say I should go for it.”
Pecotic explained that his new adventure is similar to what life was like as a student-athlete at Princeton University. Instead of completing homework and other assignments around training, he will work remotely.
“You train for two, three hours if you’re in between matches, in between tournaments. So I can get everything done. It’s not like I’m getting suffocated by work,” Pecotic said. “There’s enough time in the day to do a lot of stuff. You just spend less time on Instagram and more time with your laptop. You start checking off the things on your to-do list, you don’t stop until you get them done and then you go to bed.”
Before the Delray Beach tournament was over, Pecotic was already hungry for more action.
“I was like, ‘I want more’,” Pecotic recalled. “Taylor Fritz invited me for a practice session in Boca before he went to Acapulco. I had a great training session with him there and I said, ‘Okay come on’. I was pretty pumped.”
Pecotic, who enjoyed a hit with Fritz before the American’s match in Miami Sunday, recently faced a tough moment when his grandfather passed away. He flew to Belgrade to attend the funeral and returned to the United States late last week.
“That was a big blow to the stomach after Delray. Trying to put things in perspective and draw from the lessons, use that as inspiration,” Pecotic said. “He watched it on TV and he called me up, we FaceTimed. It’s even more special knowing that he got to see me — I’m tearing up a little bit — do something on the ATP Tour.”
While in Belgrade, Pecotic visited Novak Djokovic’s academy, where he spoke to the 93-time tour-level titlist. The Serbian had made an Instagram post in support of Pecotic the week of Delray Beach.
“He said, ‘Business can be put on pause. You should go out, go play,’” Pecotic said. “I was in Belgrade last week in Serbia, so I went over there to his tennis club and he was very excited and he said, ‘Great story, I hope we get to play a real match.’”
Emil Ruusuvuori has quickly established himself as a consistent performer on the ATP Tour. The Finnish star, who is No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, has a powerful baseline game that has propelled him to success.
Off the court, he has plenty of interests, from hockey to music. ATPTour.com caught up with Ruusuvuori before his fourth-round match at the Miami Open presented by Itau against Botic van de Zandschulp.
If you could choose any three people to go to dinner with, who would they be and why?
Let’s put Michael Jordan. This one is pretty tough! Roger [Federer] I never really met. It’s a pity that he stopped too early, so I never got to practise with him or anything, I’ll take him. Then some artist, a big rock star.
How much are you into music?
I can listen to anything, but my dad is really into music and he was a young kid who was playing all the rock classics, Led Zeppelin, stuff like this. I used to listen to it, too.
Which is your favourite band?
Probably Red Hot Chili Peppers is one. I remember the first CD that I ever had was from them. I wish I would [play drums] more because I don’t have them any more. We actually have one set at the summer house, so if I have the chance in the summer to go there maybe once a summer [I enjoy it]. Too little. I should find a way.
Who would be in your ATP band?
For the singer I would take my country fellow Harri Heliovaara. He’s a very good singer, actually. He is. He actually did a crazy thing. In his first Davis Cup [tie] as a rookie he sang the national anthem of Finland alone without any guitar, piano, anything, in front of a couple hundred people on court.
Maybe I’ll take Frances Tiafoe to be the hype man. I don’t know who else is pretty musical. We need maybe a bassist. For bass we will take some big fellow with a beard, but there are not too many!
How well do you remember meeting fellow Finn Teemu Selanne, the NHL legend?
I met him I think in Finland a couple of times… it must have been in Finland. Then in the States we spent a couple of nights at his house and at his restaurant. I think they actually just got a Michelin star, the restaurant.
How much do you still follow hockey?
I’ve been even following the Finnish league. A friend of mine came [to] the States, he went back to Finland for this season, so I’ve been following that. He plays for the club where the stadium is right next to where I live, so I’ve been following.
There are actually playoffs going on, so that’s what I’m going to do tonight, watch the game. Here with the time change you just put the TV on, watch the game and it’s fine. When you’re in Europe it’s tough with the times.
What is something interesting fans might not know about you?
I’ve been getting into watch collecting a little bit. I’ve been following watches a lot and that’s something that traveling, you can always have them with you so it’s easier to do.
And then I think everybody should experience the endless summer nights somewhere in Finland at the summer house. That’s the best place to relax in the world.
What makes Finland so happy?
I have to say if you ask people at the moment with this weather, they’re probably struggling! Things just work so well there. Everything from the schools, medical care and everything like this, it just works perfectly. Can’t complain about any of those things, so it’s just a very good place to live, except for the weather [right now]!