Santoro beats Nieminen, to meet Gasquet in Semis

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Mumbai, Sep 28 (UNI) Fifth seed Fabrice Santoro of France caused a mini upset when he beat fourth seed J Nieminen of Finland in straight sets to enter the semi-finals of the 416,000 dollar Kingfisher Airlines Open tennis tournament at the CCI hard courts here today.

Santoro won at 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 21 minutes to book his semifinal berth.

He will now meet top seed Richard Gasquet who easily accounted for the sixth seed S Koubek of Austria in straights sets at 6-2, 6-4.

Though the scoreline suggested an easy win for Santoro, the match was much more closer than that with the Frenchman having to battle through every point in hot and humid conditions of Mumbai.

It was Nieminen who got the first break of serve in the third game of the first set to go up 2-1. However, Santoro got onto a roll winning the next four games to go up 5-2. The French veteran of the tour used the chips and sliced forehand to telling effect to wrap up the first set at 6-3.

The second set saw both players trade early breaks. However, the games went on serve after that till 4-4 when Santoro got the all important break to go up 5-4 and then served out the match to emerge victorious at 6-3, 6-4.

Santoro admitted after the match that it was a very tough match, though he won in straight sets. ''The conditions were tough with the humidity levels making it difficult to recover between points''.

In another quarter-final match eight seed Olivier Rochus defeated wildcarder Nicolas Kiefer when the latter had to retire due to stomach cramps with Rochus leading 4-1 in the first set.

Speaking to the media later, Rochus said that it was nice to have a short match specially after the long match I had yesterday.

''The five games which we played were very tough and the score could have been anything'', he said.

Results: Singles quarterfinals: Fabrice Santoro (Fra) beat J Nieminen (Fin) 6-3, 6-4; Olivier Rochus (Bel) beat Nicolas Kiefer (France) 4-1 (Kiefer retired due to injury); R Gasquet (Fra) beat S Koubek (Aut) 6-2, 6-4.


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