1/15/13 6:06 PM | Ricky Dimon
Jarkko Nieminen scores his first career win over Tommy Haas, and he does it in dramatic fashion on Tuesday. Nieminen goes into fifth-set overtime for the victory and will next face Ivan Dodig.
In terms of both the matchup's quality and the ensuing showdown's drama, Jarkko Nieminen delivered the marquee win of the Australian Open on Tuesday night.
Nieminen saved one match before outlasting Tommy Haas 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 8-6 in three hours and 42 minutes. The 31-year-old fired 19 aces and 66 winners (more than his opponent in both departments) as he set up a second-round meeting with Ivan Dodig.
Haas twice found himself trailing by a set, first after playing a dismal opening tiebreaker and then after being at the mercy of Nieminen--when the Finn recorded 17 winners to just five errors throughout the third frame of play. The 34-year-old German, however, again got back on level terms by breaking at 5-4 in the fourth.
With momentum in hand, Haas went up by a quick break in the decider--but the swings in this one were nowhere near finished. Melbourne's No. 19 seed gave the break back at 4-2 without winning a single point. He steadied himself mentally to garner additional chance, and he had a golden one, in fact, on match point with Nieminen serving at 5-6, 30-40. Showing zero nerves, though, Nieminen executed a perfect serve-and-volley play to save it.
From there it was all Nieminen. The world No. 70 held for 6-6 then allowed Haas to self-destruct on serve in the 13th game of the set. Pummeling his serves, much flatter and harder than he normally does, Nieminen held easily at 7-6 to clinch victory.
"Anytime you lose, especially with match point, (it) is obviously disappointing," said Haas, who blew a two-set lead to Ernests Gulbis in round one of last summer's U.S. Open. "That's the sport; unfortunately you have these ups and downs. It's a tough pill to swallow, but that's how it goes."
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