Nalbandian, Nishikori roll through in Stockholm

October 11th, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Stockholm, Oct 11 (DPA) Argentine top seed David Nalbandian outclassed Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-4, 6-1 at the Stockholm Open tennis tournament to line up against two-time finalist Jarkko Nieminen in the semi-finals.Finland’s third seed Nieminen reached the last four with a 6-1, 6-4 dispatch of Spaniard Oscar Hernandez, revenge for a clay loss he took in Barcelona last spring.

Nieminen has lost Stockholm finals in 2001 and 2006 and is determined to try to remedy that as he plays his ninth Stockholm edition.

The 27-year-old now stands 14-8 at the tournament and levelled his 2008 record at 24-24 with the victory in less than 90 minutes.

Nalbandian, his mind focussed on the Nov 21-23 Davis Cup final at Mar del Plata against Rafael Nadal, was untested by 46th-ranked Montanes.

Victory in 62 minutes Friday was the third for the South American in the series with the Spaniard at the ATP level. He takes a 5-4 record against Nieminen into their Saturday showdown.

“I played well, really well,” said Nalbandian. “It will be a tough match against Jarkko. He’s a lefty but if I play like I have this week I have good chances.”

Japan’s Kei Nishikori shook off his own poor health to benefit with a free ride as opponent Mario Ancic was forced out by fever.

“I’m sick too, I’ve got a sore threat and cold and my knee hurts,” said the unseeded 77th-ranked teenager.

“But I wanted to play the match somehow. Now I’ve got a day to rest and I’m sure I can play tomorrow. It’s the semi-finals, it’s big for me.”

Nishikori will play Sweden’s Robin Soderling, the fourth seed, who put out German Rainer Schuettler 6-2, 7-5.

Florida-based phenomenon Nishikori will be competing in his second semi-final of the season after winning a title last February in Delray Beach, Florida with an upset of James Blake.

Ancic has had health problems through out his career and suffered through a particularly bad 2007 as he came down with glandular fever.

After returning, he played intermittently and then missed much of this summer with more ill health.

Nishikori is the first Japanese contender on the ATP since Shuzo Matsuoka in the early 1990s. Nishikori caused a sensation as he played last week at home in Tokyo, losing in the third round of the Japan Open to Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

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