Nalbandian Beats Nieminen as Temperatures Soar
As soaring temperatures forced Australian Open officials to suspend play on most courts for about two hours at Melbourne Park on Friday, David Nalbandian and last week’s Heineken Open winner, Jarkko Nieminen, carried on regardless of the conditions.
While fourth-seeded Nalbandian won the battle of attrition over the determined Finn 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 for a place in the fourth round, other players returned to the locker room under the extreme heat policy.
The ruling allows for play to be suspended on outside courts and for the closure of two retractable roofs covering the two main stadium courts should temperatures hit 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).
Nalbandian and No. 26 seed Nieminen also continued their clash, on Vodafone Arena, through a light rain shower.
Having entered the Australian Open with his highest Grand Slam seeding to date, Nalbandian needed to fight back from a one set and one break deficit to overcome Nieminen in two hours and 54 minutes.
Nieminen, ranked No. 24 in the INDESIT ATP Ranking, converted just five of 16 break points. In comparison, Nalbandian marginally bettered the Finn with seven of 19 break point successes.
Spanish No. 16 seed Tommy Robredo or last week’s Medibank International winner, James Blake, the No. 20 seed from New York, meet in Friday’s night match on Rod Laver Arena for a chance to play the reigning Tennis Masters Cup champion who improved his all-time record in Melbourne to 16-4.
In night action, Swede Thomas Johansson reached the last 16 for the second consecutive year with a straight sets win over French qualifier Gilles Simon, who was making his second career Grand Slam appearance.
Johansson was rarely tested in the 6-3, 6-2 6-1 victory over 21-year-old Simon – ranked No. 123 in the INDESIT ATP Ranking.
The 2002 champion awaits the winner of either seventh-seeded Ivan Ljubicic or No. 31 seed Feliciano Lopez of Spain both looking for a fourth round berth in Melbourne for the first time.