Federer squeezes past Nieminen at Swiss Indoors
24 October 2008
BASEL – Two-time defending champion Roger Federer endured a shaky start before defeating Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 7-6 (6), 7-6 (1) in the Swiss Indoors second round on Thursday.
Federer had his hometown crowd in a state of anxiety as he mistimed several forehands, lost his serve three times, and volleyed below his usual standards.
"I’m still struggling with my coordination just a touch," Federer said.
"I don’t control the balls as good as I would like to and that then makes me doubt my footwork a little bit. It will only get better."
He repeatedly got out of trouble with aces, including one of his 11 to save a first set point when trailing 5-3.
Nieminen hadn’t taken a set off Federer in nine previous matchups, including last year’s final. He also was two points from claiming the first set at 5-4 and in the tiebreaker.
"He made me work hard tonight," Federer said. "It definitely sends some shocks through you when you get broken back-to-back."
Ultimately, he won the set on a wide forehand by the left-handed Finn.
Federer squandered an early break in the second set but dominated the tiebreaker, finally winning when Nieminen netted an attempted pass after 96 minutes.
In Friday’s quarter-finals, the top-seeded Swiss will play Simone Bolelli of Italy, who beat Marcel Granollers of Spain 6-4, 6-2.
Second-seeded David Nalbandian, the 2002 champion and twice runner-up, beat Kristof Vliegen of Belgium 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (4) to also reach the quarterfinals.
He and Argentine countryman Juan Martin del Potro are on course to meet for the second time in two weeks, in the semi-finals.
Third-seeded del Potro made just four unforced errors as he cruised past Switzerland’s Stephane Bohli 6-3, 6-3.
Fourth-seeded James Blake hit 18 aces as he came from behind to beat Oscar Hernandez of Spain 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4 to reach the last eight for the first time in three visits.
"I was serving well and that got me out of a lot of trouble," Blake said.
[AP / Expatica]