Friday January 11, 2013
Tomic knocks out defending champion Nieminen
SYDNEY: Young Australian Bernard Tomic (pic) took a major step towards winning his first career ATP Tour title by downing defending champion Jarkko Nieminen at the Sydney International yesterday.
The 20-year-old, ranked 64th, clawed back from dropping the opening set to oust the Finn, 6-7 (6-8), 6-4, 6-2 in a night quarter-final.
Tomic will take on Italian Andreas Seppi in today’s semi-final. Tomic’s only previous tour semi-final ended in defeat against Andy Murray last January in Brisbane.
“I’m ready to go for tomorrow’s semi-final,” Tomic said. “I’m really confident and I got a shot to get into the final for the first time in my career.
“So the next match is a big match and I’m going to do everything I can to win tomorrow.
“To get the chance to play first Tour event final and to do it in Australia is going to be unbelievable, but I’ve got to play two quality players to do so.”
The towering Kevin Anderson earlier became the first South African to reach the Sydney semi-finals in nine years with victory over Denis Istomin.
The 36th-ranked Anderson accounted for the Uzbek 6-4, 6-3 in 84 minutes and will face last year’s finalist Julien Benneteau of France in today’s last four.
The last South African to reach the final four was Wayne Ferreira.
Benneteau, who lost to Nieminen in last year’s final, was too strong for American qualifier Ryan Harrison, winning 6-4, 6-2.
Tomic, a 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finalist, now has 17 victories from his past 19 matches in Australia as he heads into the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday.
“I was happy with myself to stay in there,” Tomic said of his win over the experienced 44th-ranked Nieminen. “I was concerned after that first set.”
Tomic grabbed the only service break of the second set when Nieminen faltered trying to stay in the game at 4-5 down. The Finn petered out in the final set and shanked his second serve on match point.
Anderson, who is 6ft 8in (2.03 metres) tall, is bidding to claim his third ATP title after victories in Delray Beach and Johannesburg.
“It’s always good to start the year off on a good note,” he said. — AFP