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  • Gulbis continues dominance of Nieminen

    5/13/13 4:40 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Gulbis continues dominance of Nieminen Ernests Gulbis beats Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets for the fifth time in five tries during first-round action on Monday in Rome. Gulbis awaits either Janko Tipsarevic or Viktor Troicki.

    Ernests Gulbis improved to 5-0 lifetime against Jarkko Nieminen and 3-0 already this season with a 6-2, 7-6(6) victory in the first round of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Monday afternoon. Gulbis, who is also a perfect 10-0 in sets against Nieminen, saved all six of the break points he faced to advance in one hour and 38 minutes.

    Nieminen, who won only five total games off Gulbis in Marseille and just six last month in Munich, looked similarly hopeless throughout the opening set of this one. He saved none of the break points he faced on his own serve while winning a mere five points in four return games. Gulbis earned his second break of the day at 5-2 to finish off the set in style.

    The Stadio Pietrangeli faithful enjoyed a far more entertaining second. In fact, Nieminen had a golden opportunity to take a set off Gulbis for the first time. The 31-year-old Finn had five break chances to begin the set and watched one more go by the wayside at 3-3 when his opponent cracked a winning backhand. Still, Nieminen at least managed to force a tiebreaker for just the second time in his career versus Gulbis.

    Nieminen never had a lead in the ensuing 'breaker, but he did well--in part thanks to Gulbis--to make it close. The world No. 46 raced to a 4-0 advantage and eventually played his way to triple match point at 6-3. Nieminen fought off the first two on his serve before Gulbis sprayed a wild double-fault at 6-5. Gulbis, however, took care of his next service point then finally clinched victory with some incredible defense at 7-6.

    Solid baseline play and and impressive numbers on his first serve (80 percent of those points won), helped the qualifier overcome eight double-faults. Nieminen wrapped up his effort with one ace and two doubles while winning just 42 percent of his second-serve points.

    Next up for Gulbis is the winner of an all-Serb showdown between Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki.



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