BASEL: Roger Federer stuttered into the quarterfinals of his hometown tournament in Basel on Thursday after an unexpectedly tough 7-6, 7-6 second round win over Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen.
Nieminen, the World No. 29, came into the match having lost all nine of his previous meetings with Federer and without having taken a set off the Swiss.
He came agonisingly close to breaking that hoodoo on Thursday, however, fighting back from 3-1 down to lead 5-3 in the opening set.
Federer, looking strangely out of sorts throughout the match, even handed his opponent two set points but they proved to be the last with the world number two pulling himself back from the brink with an ace and a forehand winner.
He promptly broke back to level as Nieminen served for the set before squeezing through the subsequent tiebreak 8-6.
Federer seemed back in control after breaking 3-2 ahead in the second set but slipped up again three games later to send the encounter into another tiebreak.
This time though he made no mistakes, winning six points in a row to clinch the tiebreak 7-1.
“I think the great record I have against him definitely helped me when it came to the big points,” said a relieved looking Federer.
Federer will now face unseeded Italian Simone Bolelli in the quarterfinals, after the World No. 42 won his second round match against Spain’s Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-2.
Meanwhile, Leander Paes and Lukas Dlouhy crashed out of the Swiss Indoors tournament, losing 6-3, 6-0 to the German combine of Christopher Kas and Philipp Kohlschreiber in the doubles second round.
In Lyon, top seed Andy Roddick served a barrage of aces to beat fellow American Robby Ginepri 7-6, 7-6 and reach the Lyon Grand Prix quarterfinals.
The results: At Lyon: ATP Lyon Grand Prix:
Second round: Juan Carlos Ferrero bt Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-1; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bt Fabrice Santoro 6-2, 5-7, 6-3; Gilles Simon bt Andreas Seppi 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4; Steve Darcis bt Richard Gasquet 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5).
At Basel: ATP Swiss Indoors: Quarterfinals: David Nalbandian bt Benjamin Becker 7-6(4), 6-4. Second round: Roger Federer bt Jarkko Nieminen 7-6(6), 7-6(1); Juan Martin Del Potro bt Stephane Bohli 6-3, 6-3; James Blake bt Oscar Hernandez 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-4; David Nalbandian bt Kristof Vliegen 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(4); Simone Bolelli bt Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-2.
At St. Petersburg: ATP St. Petersburg Open: Quarterfinal: Fernando Verdasco bt Rainer Schuettler 7-5, 6-2.
Second round: Mischa Zverev bt Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-4; Andy Murray bt Ernests Gulbis 6-4, 6-2; Victor Hanescu bt Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 7-6(7); Andrey Golubev bt Marat Safin 6-4, 6-2; Janko Tipsarevic bt Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 7-6(3).
At Linz: WTA Linz Open:
Second round: Alona Bondarenko bt Patty Schnyder 6-2, 2-6, 6-1; Nadia Petrova bt Katarina Srebotnik 6-4, 7-6(7); Ana Ivanovic bt Sybille Bammer 6-4, 6-2; Marion Bartoli bt Petra Kvitova 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-3; Flavia Pennetta bt Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-1; Vera Zvonareva bt Nuria Llagostera 6-2, 6-0.
At Luxembourg: WTA Luxembourg Championships:
Quarterfinals: Na Li bt Iveta Benesova 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. Second round: Anabel Medina Garrigues bt Catalina Castano 6-2, 4-6, 7-5; Elena Dementieva bt Gisela Dulko 6-2, 6-2.