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Monte Carlo Masters 2013: Novak Djokovic vs. Jarkko Nieminen QF Preview

By Soumojit Basu    + Follow

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Keywords: Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters | Novak-Djokovic | Jarkko-Nieminen
Monte Carlo Masters 2013:  Novak Djokovic vs. Jarkko Nieminen QF Preview
A wounded Novak Djokovic will look to make it to the semi-finals of the ATP 1000 Master Series event in Monte Carlo for the fifth time in his career. The Serb, twice finalist at the Principality, has endured a difficult week and will need to be on guard against an inspired Jarkko Nieminen in the quarter-finals later today.

World No. 1, Novak Djokovic has been made to earn each of his two victories in the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters, having battled back from a set down, against Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny and Argentine Juan Monaco,  in both his matches to eventually win in three sets. Those matches would have hardly helped in the recovery of his ‘bruised’ ankle which has impeded his preparation for the year’s first clay court ATP 1000 Masters. Despite his predicaments, Djokovic has dug deep and found the will and the way to win. After his win over Monaco, the Serb reiterated that he’s not where he wants to be, physically, and must be lamenting on the effects another two hour match would’ve had.

The Belgrade native said: “It's another big test obviously, again a two-hour match. Obviously I'm not physically out there feeling my best. Somehow feels that I always miss that half a step. But I'm trying. I'm fighting. After I lost the first set today, I tried to find that inner strength. I found it again. So that's a positive thing. Every day brings a new challenge and we'll see what happens tomorrow.”

His task in the quarter final will not be easy as he is up against Jarkko Nieminen, the Finnish veteran rolling back the years and playing some inspired Tennis to first take out Milon Raonic and then Argentine 5th seed, Juan Martin Del Potro, winning both matches in a third set tiebreak. These results have meant that the Finn has made it to the last eight of a ATP 1000 Masters event after a seven year gap, that quarterfinal was in 2006 where he lost to Tommy Robredo in the BNP Paribas Open in Paris.

After his epic win over Del Potro, Nieminen claimed that this win will be one to ‘remember’, and added that the tight matches that he’s played over the years have meant that he did not panic during the crucial junctures of the match.

About the deciding set tiebreak, the Finn said: “Obviously when it gets this tight, there’s a lot of drama, like when it’s 7-6 in the third. I felt great on the court. It’s the last match of the day. It’s fully crowded. The crowd was so into it. They kept clapping. Always when I felt tired after a long point, they were almost like standing and clapping.  That helped me. I really enjoyed that moment on the court. It was unbelievable to play there.” 

At the back of Djokovic’s mind, the thought of doing further damage to his ankle must force him to get-off to a good start as he can ill afford another long drawn out three setter. Nieminen has played the incumbent World No. 1 on four occasions, winning just the once. The pair’s only meeting on clay came in 2007 at the ATP Masters Series event in Hamburg where the Serb was able to vanquish his opponent in three tight sets. Fast forward to 2013 and it remains to be seen whether Nieminen continues his fairy tale run or if the top seed can once again find a way to suffer and win.

Pick: Djokovic in two. 

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