Nieminen to meet Andy Roddick in Paris Masters 2nd round
Finnish tennis no.1 Jarkko Nieminen (ATP-39) had another busy weekend, this time in Paris, as he sought to qualify for the BNP Paribas Paris Masters.
Just as in Basel the previous week, his ATP ranking was not sufficiently high to earn him an automatic place in the main draw, and he had to qualify through two rounds.
Seeded No.1 in the qualifiers, Nieminen took three sets to dispose of his first opponent, Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili (ATP-99), but had an altogether easier time against Frenchman Marc Gicquel (ATP-150), winning 6-2, 6-1 in just 50 minutes.
This set up a first round encounter today with Belgium's Xavier Malisse, who held a 2-1 advantage over the Finn on their earlier matches, but Nieminen - currently in excellent form since an early exit from the US Open - showed no signs of fatigue and swept past the Belgian 6-4, 6-3 in the opening match on Centre Court.
In the 2nd round Nieminen will meet the 8th seed Andy Roddick of the United States, and will doubtless be hoping to avenge the defeat he suffered in their only previous meeting, at this year's Roland Garros in Paris.
Roddick came through that match with a nasty scare 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 after more than three hours on court.
The American will be eager to progress deep in this tournament, as he still needs some points to guarantee safe passage into the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. He is currently ranked 7th, and only the eight best players are admitted to the tournament.
Nieminen's ATP ranking has gone up steadily during the autumn thanks to a run of good results (he is now 15-5 in wins and losses since the US Open, not including qualifying matches, where he has another four wins), and he rose a further two places on Monday's new listings, despite going out 6-4, 7-6 to the eventual runner-up Novak Djokovic in Basel last week.
The Paris event, won last year by Djokovic, carries prize money totalling EUR 2,750,000 and the draw contains all of the current top 10 players on the ATP Tour with the sole exception of world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, who withdrew last week on medical grounds.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Nieminen beaten by Ljubicic in three sets; gets through qualifiers for Basel tournament (1.11.2010)
Jarkko Nieminen website and blog
ATP: Jarkko Nieminen