Jarkko Nieminen progresses at French Open after opponent retires injured
Next up is a meeting with 4th seed Andy Murray
Nobody really likes to win via the retirement through injury of their opponent, but Finland's tennis No.1 Jarkko Nieminen (ATP-48) will probably take any good fortune coming his way at the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, since he has failed to progress beyond the first round of the Grand Slam tournament for the past two years.
This time he is into the second round, after his match against Igor Andreev of Russia (ATP-83) came to an abrupt end early in the third set, when Andreev threw in the towel with a shoulder injury.
The match did not start very auspiciously for the Finn, who went down 6-3 in a first set that was littered with four breaks of service.
At this stage it looked ominously as though Andreev would be extending his 2-0 lead in matches against Nieminen, who made 10 unforced errors to the Russian's four.
Nieminen recovered to take the second set 6-2, breaking Andreev twice without reply, and after Andreev lost his service again early in the third set to trail 2-1, the Russian - who had requested the services of the physiotherapist after the second set - decided to call it a day.
Writing on his blog, Nieminen took some positives from the truncated match, expressing pleasure in the way he picked his game up, improving his 1st service percentage and reducing the number of unforced errors as things went on.
He will need to keep this up and more in his next encounter, against 4th seed Andy Murray of Scotland, in a match on Thursday that will certainly not be played on a remote outside court like Court 17, as was the case for Tuesday's match.
Murray and Nieminen have faced each other across the net three times, most recently on the grass at Wimbledon in 2010, and Murray has emerged on top each time.
They have not, however, played one another on the red clay surface that is used in Paris.
Murray cruised through yesterday in his first round match 6-1, 7-5, 6-0 over Japan's Tatsuma Ito.
Jarkko Nieminen has certainly not enjoyed the best of fortunes at Roland Garros in recent years.
In 2008 he reached the third round before going down to eventual winner Rafael Nadal, but in 2009 he missed the event with a wrist injury, in 2010 he immediately faced 6th seed Andy Roddick, losing to the American in five sets, and last year he had to take on Spain's David Ferrer, the 7th seed, in the opening round.
His best performance here was in 2003, when he progressed to the 4th round and the last sixteen.
Before the encounter with Murray, Nieminen will have a chance to work out with his French Open doubles partner Robin Haase of The Netherlands.
They have been given a very tough assignment straight out of the box, meeting Max Mirnyi (Belarus) and Daniel Nestor (Canada), last year's winners and this year's top seeds.
Nieminen and Haase are no mugs, however, and just over a month ago they gave the more fancied pairing a good run for their money on clay in Barcelona, before going down 14-12 in the deciding set, and they actually had three match points in that encounter.
Nieminen enjoyed a bright start to the 2012 season, taking his second career ATP title in Sydney in a personal marathon tournament in which he went through qualifying to reach the final - his eighth match - and beat Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
Since then, things have not gone quite as swimmingly, but he comes into this tournament refreshed after a week of practice in Düsseldorf and Paris and feeling confident he is back to his best.
The 30-year-old veteran of the ATP circuit was once ranked as high as No.13 in the world, back in 2006.
Updated, 17:00 Jarkko Nieminen and Robin Haase went down in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to the reigning French Open men's doubles champions and top seeds Mirnyi and Nestor on Wednesday afternoon.
The match was done and dusted in an hour, and now Nieminen can concentrate on Andy Murray and Haase can give his full attention to overcoming 27th-seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in the singles.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Jarkko Nieminen to set up his own tennis academy in Helsinki (11.5.2012)
COMMENTARY: An underrated top professional (17.1.2012)
Jarkko Nieminen website and blog
Jarkko Nieminen on the ATP site
Jarkko Nieminen (Wikipedia)