Garcia-Lopez triumphs over Nieminen in Thai Open

By Martin Petty

The unheralded Spaniard showed the same spark and resilience he used to conquer world number one Rafa Nadal in the semi-finals a day earlier to triumph over the Finn in a tense and thrilling battle of two unseeded players.

Either could have won, with Garcia-Lopez saving a flurry of break points and chasing every ball and Nieminen dictating the match from the baseline with flawless, powerful returns.

"It's been an unbelievable week, I can't find the words to say what I feel inside," Garcia-Lopez told reporters.

"Yesterday, I beat Rafa Nadal and I knew it would be just as tough to win again. It was a 50-50 match, he played really well, I played really well, but I did it best in the final set."

Garcia-Lopez made his break in the seventh game of the first set, chasing after a seemingly irretrievable drop shot and responding with a better one of his own to stun Nieminen.

Nieminen looked impressive throughout and came out fighting in the second set, utilizing his fierce backhand and relentlessly whacking the ball into all corners of the court to test the world number 53 and level the score.

The deciding set was a thriller and went down to the wire, with Nieminen refusing to quit at 5-4 down and saving a string of match points when Garcia-Lopez had one hand on the trophy.

However, the Finn could hold him off no longer in a marathon final game. He landed a tame second serve that the Spaniard smashed into the corner of the court with Nieminen stranded.

"He was serving, he had the initiative, but he missed his first serve," said Garcia-Lopez. "And it was up to me to find that winner."

(Editing by Sonia Oxley)