• Roddick fights off Nieminen in five sets

    5/25/10 4:45 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Roddick fights off Nieminen in five sets Andy Roddick goes the distance in his first clay-court match of the season on Tuesday at Roland Garros, but he has just enough to get past Jarkko Nieminen.

    Andy Roddick's clay-court season almost started and ended at the same time.

    Instead, Roddick battle back from a two sets to one deficit and defeated Jarkko Nieminen 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday afternoon. Roddick needed three hours and 19 minutes to set up a second-round clash with either Blaz Kavcic or Eduardo Schwank.

    Playing for the first time on clay in 2010, Roddick came out firing and raced through the first set by losing just two games. The world No. 8 lost only five points in his first four service games and his second break of the day at 5-2 finished off the opening set in style.

    Nieminen, however, turned the tide in sets two and tree. The veteran Finn allowed Roddick no break chances in the second and saved the only two he faced in the third. Nieminen broke serve once in each frame of play and both times successfully served for the set at 5-4. Heating up as the match progressed, Nieminen fired 14 winners against only four errors in a near-flawless third-set performance.

    The penultimate set proved to be critical. Nieminen continued to play impressive tennis (13 winners and four mistakes), but Roddick served well and managed to force a tiebreaker. Despite falling behind an immediate mini-break, Roddick eventually took control mostly thanks to winning free points with booming first serves. The American took it seven points to four to force a decisive fifth set.

    Although Roddick won the fifth with two breaks of serve, it was closer than the score suggested. Nieminen had a look at a break point at 2-1 and--even after going down a break in the next game--earned another chance at 2-3. The world No. 69 went up 0-30 on Roddick's serve at 4-3, but the favorite won the next four points to fight off the challenge. Finally, Nieminen cracked with a double-fault on match point at 3-5, 30-40.

    Roddick finished with 19 aces, two double-faults, 56 winners, and 29 unforced errors. Nieminen double-faulted seven times, but he fired 10 aces while recording 52 winners and 27 errors.

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