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Garcia-Lopez Holds Off Nadal, Faces Nieminen For Title

Bangkok, Thailand

Jarkko Nieminen© Getty ImagesJarkko Nieminen will hope to improve on a 1-8 record in ATP World Tour finals.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez saved a staggering 24 of 26 break points as he recorded the biggest win of his career Saturday in Bangkok by defeating World No. 1 Rafael Nadal 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 to reach the final of the PTT Thailand Open.

“I have never beaten a No. 1 player in the world before. I've beaten some good Top 10 players, but never a No. 1. I think it was the best match of my career,” declared Garcia-Lopez. “I think the tie-break in second set was the key. I felt much better after that and I was playing great at the end. Everything went perfectly.”

The Spaniard is through to his second ATP World Tour final of the season, after finishing runner-up on grass in Eastbourne (l. to Llodra) in June. The 27 year old won his lone ATP World Tour title last year on clay in his first final in Kitzbuhel (d. Benneteau).

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World No. 53 Garcia-Lopez faced a formidable task against ATP World Tour Champion Nadal, who was on a nine-match winning streak after completing his career Grand Slam at the US Open (d. Djokovic) last month. Indeed, the 24-year-old Nadal looked to be well on his way to his eighth tour-level final of the season when he broke serve twice to take the opening set.

Resilience paid off for Garcia-Lopez in the second set, though, as he saved 16 break points to force a tie-break, which he quickly took command of and won 7-3. The Albacete native then converted his only break point opportunity of the match in the fourth game of the third set and held his nerve to close out victory in two hours and 45 minutes.

In the final Garcia-Lopez will face World No. 60 Jarkko Nieminen, who won a semi-final match at the ATP World Tour 250 hard-court tennis tournament in Bangkok for the first time in three attempts as he cruised past German Benjamin Becker 6-3, 6-2.

In the pair’s fourth meeting this year, and second in two weeks, Nieminen repeated his Metz first-round victory over the German as he capitalised on three of five break points in the 65-minute match. The Finn, who ousted No. 3 seed Jurgen Melzer in the quarter-finals, improved to a 21-22 match record.

Nieminen, who lost out in the semi-finals in 2003 (l. to Dent) and 2005 (l. to Federer), reached his 10th ATP World Tour final and first since January 2009, when he finished runner-up to David Nalbandian in Sydney. He will look to win his second title (1-8 record) when he faces Garcia-Lopez in the final.

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