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Rusty Federer fights past ‘great’ Nieminen

Roger Federer needed ten aces and a fighting finish in a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen which secured his place in the quarter-finals of the Swiss Indoors on Wednesday.

Rusty Federer fights past 'great' Nieminen
John Togasaki (File)

Out of action for six weeks, the Swiss third seed was tested for the first time by his longtime rival in a series which began in 2002. Since they began in Moscow nine years ago, Federer had won all 11 matches in straight sets.

Fellow 30-year-old Niemimen, a finalist two weeks ago in Stockholm, achieved a personal goal as he finally won a set off the Swiss, taking the second with two breaks of Federer’s serve and despite double-faults on two of four set points.

It took a big effort in the third set for 16-time grand slam winner Federer to re-establish control. But he still needed three match points to end with a cross-court winner after just over 90 minutes.

“I’m really happy to go through, said Federer, the four-time tournament champion and holder. “The second set was really tough and Jarkko played very well.

“He was also great at the end of the third (set). I found it tough to get my rhythm, it’s a result of not playing for six weeks. To stay at your highest level you have to play consistently and I didn’t manage to do that all the time today.”

Federer’s hard-fought victory took him to 26 wins from his last 27 matches in Basel, where his only loss in that period came in the 2009 final to Novak Djokovic.

Federer is without a title since the first week in January and is hoping for a big season finish this week, next week in Paris and at the eight-man season wrapup in London from November 20th.

The field of leading seeds was reduced to Federer and Serbia’s number one Djokovic as second seed Andy Murray withdrew with a right buttock muscle strain.

The world number three was replaced in the draw by Basel-born Marco Chiudinelli. Ironically, his wild card was withdrawn by the tour in order to give it to Murray at late notice last week but he went on to lose to Robin Haase 6-2, 7-6 (9/7).

Murray said he woke up around 3am on Tuesday with pain in his buttock.

“I was struggling to walk,” said Murray. “I had trained twice on Monday and felt fine after that.

“It was a bit better later on Tuesday morning and I went to a pool for some exercises and had a light hit. But this morning (Wednesday) I knew it was still not good enough.

“I don’t know how I did it or what it came from. I’ve never had anything like this before.”

The Scot said his personal physio and doctor suspect the problem might be linked to the sciatic nerve.

Murray said he will travel to Paris on Thursday and take four or five days off with anti-inflammatory treatment in the hope of being fit for the final event of the regular ATP season starting on Monday, the Paris Masters.

Murray’s pull-out was the second of the day after Serb sixth seed Janko Tipsarevic was unable to go on when he was trailing 5-1 in the first set against German Florian Mayer in their first round match.

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus joined Federer in the last eight as he beat Swiss Michael Lammer 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, taking nearly two and a quarter-hours to go through.

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SPORT

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.

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