Nieminen's win in Morocco Challenger event sends him flying up ATP rankings
Dismal summer in 2009 could now be an asset
Jarkko Nieminen seems to be enjoying tennis a good deal more this year than last.
On Sunday the Finnish No.1 overcame top-seeded Oleksandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine in straight sets (6-3, 6-2) in the final of an ATP Challenger tour event in Marrakech, Morocco, and the win propelled him 18 places upwards on the ATP ladder.
Nieminen went into the clay court tournament ranked 85th in the world and seeded 2nd in the draw, and his win over Dolgopolov pushed him up to 67th in Monday's new listing.
Basically the climb back up the ladder means that Nieminen can return to the top tier of the ATP tour as he will find it easier to get a place in the singles draw for larger and more lucrative events, and will be more likely to be among the seeded players in smaller tournaments
Roughly a year ago, Nieminen's tennis season hit a brick wall when he injured his right wrist in the semi-final of a clay court tournament in Tunisia.
The long layoff after surgery on the wrist meant a steady slide down the rankings and a loss of self-confidence.
The Marrakech win in turn produced a modest pay cheque of EUR 15,300 but 125 valuable ATP points, and these are the key.
When one compares the points won with what Nieminen has to defend over the coming summer, all the ingredients are there for him to continue his rise up the ATP leaderboard.
Last year his enforced absence through injury meant that between mid-March and the end of August he claimed only 84 points - which will gradually vanish off his account and the ATP computer's memory as the year progresses.
In other words the player has little "in the bank" to lose and can thus build a solid foundation with some good results during the clay court season and beyond.
There is a precedent, too. When Nieminen broke his wrist on an earlier occasion in 2004, the following season he slumped down to 142nd on the rankings, but from there he climbed back to his career high position, as 13th in the world in July 2006.
Nieminen will next be playing at another Challenger Tour event on clay in Barletta, Italy. He is the top seed in the event.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Nieminen and Kohlmann´s Australian Open run ends in sem-final defeat (28.1.2010)
Challenger circuit win in Jersey marks end to Jarkko Nieminen´s long dry spell on court (16.11.2009)
Ousted from singles, Jarkko Nieminen marches on in men´s doubles at Australian Open
Henri Kontinen digs deep to bring home Davis Cup tie (8.3.2010)
Jarkko Nieminen Official Site & Blog
ATP Tour Jarkko Nieminen