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Nalbandian meets Soderling in Stockholm final

Reuters
Oct 11, 2008 at 10:36pm IST

Stockholm: Top seed David Nalbandian reached the Stockholm Open final with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen on Saturday.

The world No. 7, who has not dropped a set this week, beat Nieminen for the sixth time in 10 meetings to set up a final showdown with home hope Robin Soderling, who demolished Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-0.

Displaying an impressive all-court game, Nalbandian proved the more aggressive player throughout the match and fired winners past Nieminen from the baseline and from the net.

IMPRESSIVE: David Nalbandian returns the ball to Jarkko Nieminen during their semi-final match at the Stockholm Open.

"I've been playing well all week... I hope to keep going like this tomorrow," Nalbandian, aiming to win his second title of the year, said.

"I served well and I played very well in the important moments of the match. I don't think he played bad, I just played really good."

The players engaged in some entertaining baseline rallies before Nalbandian took control of the match.

He broke Nieminen for a 3-1 lead and again in the seventh game before serving out the first set.

Nieminen was often left stranded at the baseline and dropped his serve again in the third game of the second set and that was enough to seal his fate.

Nieminen tribute

The Finn paid tribute to Nalbandian.

"If he played like this every week, he'd be a top three player. He can play as well as (Rafael) Nadal, (Roger) Federer and (Novak) Djokovic," said Nieminen.

Nalbandian was briefly ranked third in the world a few years ago but has struggled to fulfil his potential.

After reaching the Wimbledon final in 2002 on his debut appearance at the grasscourt slam, his most notable achievement has been his triumph at the 2005 Masters Cup.

Last year it looked like he was on the verge of challenging the top players for the major crowns when he won the Madrid and Paris Masters titles but his run of form fizzled out as soon as the 2008 season started.

Asked about his inconsistency over the years, Nalbandian replied: "I agree with that. It's not easy to play good everywhere, week after week."

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