Nieminen upsets Gonzalez to reach Basel semi-finals

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BASEL, Switzerland, Oct 26 (Reuters) Unseeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen pulled off a 6-3 7-5 win over Chilean second seed Fernando Gonzalez today to book a surprise place in the Swiss Indoors semi-finals.

Nieminen, who had lost all four of his previous meetings with Gonzalez, will now face either French eighth seed Paul-Henri Mathieu or unseeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis for a place in Sunday's final.

The world number 29 edged ahead of Gonzalez after converting the only break point of the opening set.

He came through a nervy climax to the second set, missing two match points at 5-4 and saving three break points at 6-5, before eventually wrapping up his first win over the world number eight.

''I haven't beaten too many top-10 guys this year, so this is big,'' Nieminen said.

''I played great last year but lost a lot of tight matches against the best players which is why I couldn't break into the top 10 myself and finished the year ranked 15th.

''This year hasn't been as strong but my results this week have given me a lot of confidence and now hopefully I can finish the season with a good feeling.'' MASTERS CUP Gonzalez won the Basel title in 2005 and has reached the final here three times in total.

By reaching the quarter-finals the Chilean did at least improve his already strong chances of reaching next month's season-ending Masters Cup.

After picking up an additional 12 qualifying points before his defeat to Nieminen, Gonzalez is now guaranteed to start next week's Paris Masters as the second best-placed contender for the three remaining Masters Cup berths.

The first five spots have already been taken by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Nikolay Davydenko and Andy Roddick.

''I'm not secure yet but I have really good chances to make it and that is my goal for the rest of the season,'' Gonzalez said today.

''So long as I am winning next week in Paris then my opponents cannot do too much, so I just have to keep winning and then I won't have to worry about the other results.'' Federer is defending his hometown title in Basel this week and is due to play his quarter-final match against Germany's Nicolas Kiefer later on Friday.

Croatia's Ivo Karlovic and Czech fifth seed Tomas Berdych complete the quarter-final line-up.

REUTERS PDS AS2136

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