Bangkok - Last year's finalist Jarkko Nieminen of Finland overcame a tough challenge from Austrian teenager Dominic Thiem on Tuesday, winning 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in the first round of the Thailand Open.
Nieminen was two points away from losing when trailing 15-30 in the 10th game of the deciding set against the 18-year-old Thiem. But he held his serve and then earned the decisive break, despite having struggled with an illness for the last three days.
"I tried to practice yesterday 9Monday) but it felt worse so I rest again," the Finn said. "I just tried to stay solid and moved my legs. I did the right things in those points. I tried to play smart, not too aggressive or passive."
Two German players also advanced. Matthias Bachinge beat Greg Jones of Australia 7-5, 6-4, and Michael Berrer downed Swiss qualifier Marco Chiudinelli 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan beat Jao Souza of Brazil 6-2, 7-5 to set up a second-round match against 2009 champion Gilles Simon of France.
"The second set I was struggling a bit," Lu said. "I didn't keep my first serves in and he had many break points. But I managed to play and serve better on those key points."
Also, Simone Bolelli of Italy beat Ernests Gulbis of Latvia 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).