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Old 04-29-2006, 02:50 PM   #8
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From the Barcelona website: www.openseatgodo.com

FANTASTIC FINN CHALLENGES DOMINANCE OF CLAY COURT KING


Rafael Nadal came into his quarterfinal match at Open SEAT 2006 boasting an impressive 44-match winning streak on clay, but Jarkko Nieminen showed no sign of being intimidated.

The 24-year-old Finn instead proved himself up to the challenge of surmounting an upset against the young Spaniard, and despite falling short in the end, he succeeded in further establishing his place among the circuit's best.

Nieminen put on his game face immediately out of the gate, and forced Nadal to play catch-up twice in the first set. Nadal got back on serve at 1-1 and at 4-4, but again allowed Nieminen to take the lead. He dropped his first set in Barcelona in seven matches - dating back to a second-round loss to Alex Corretja in 2003.

His winning-streak appeared to be in serious peril as Nieminen built a 4-1 advantage in the second set, but Nadal rolled out his response attack. Cheered on by a packed house of countrymen, Nadal reeled off the next seven games before Nieminen managed another tally.

Nieminen had four chances to level the score 2-apiece, but Nadal pulled through and broke open the lead. He closed out the match on Nieminen's serve, converting on his second match point to punctuate the 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.

Nadal notched his 20th victory of the year with his quarterfinal comeback, joining Nieminen, Roger Federer, Ivan Ljubicic, Tommy Haas and James Blake to reach the 20-win mark thus far in 2006
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