• Nieminen hoping to avenge losses to Gulbis

    5/12/13 10:57 PM | Ricky Dimon
    Nieminen hoping to avenge losses to Gulbis Jarkko Nieminen has to go up against Ernests Gulbis again on Monday in Rome. This will be their third meeting of the season.

    Ernests Gulbis and Jarkko Nieminen will be going head-to-head for the fifth time in their careers when they square off in round one of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Monday afternoon.

    Gulbis has dominated all four of their previous encounters, including two this season. Their most recent encounter--and the only one on clay--came last month in the Munich first round, where Gulbis cruised 6-4, 6-2. In eight career sets, Nieminen has won zero and has taken only one to a tiebreaker.

    Both men are playing stellar tennis for the most part in 2013. Gulbis got off to a bit of a slow start after skipping the Australian summer, but he captured the Delray Beach title and reached the Indian Wells fourth round as a qualifier. The 48th-ranked Latvian is a perfect four for four in qualifying attempts this season, including this week in Rome. Overall for the year at the ATP main-draw level, Gulbis boasts a 17-6 record.

    Nieminen has cooled off somewhat of late after a nice run that included third-round performances in both Indian Wells and Miami followed by a quarterfinal showing in Monte-Carlo. The 31-year-old Finn fell to Gilles Simon in the Bucharest second round before dropping his Munich opener to Gulbis. He has not played since his most recent loss to Gulbis.

    Both players skipped Madrid, so they will be well-rested. This should feature some high-quality tennis, but there is no reason to think Gulbis won't be able to continue feasting on his opponent's relatively week serve. Based on their past history, Gulbis in straight sets has to be the pick.

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