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Adelaide, 05 January 2008

Michael Llodra beats Joseph Sirianni in the semifinals of the Next Generation Adelaide International.

The dream run of Australian wildcard Joseph Sirianni at the Next Generation Adelaide International came to an end today at the hands of Frenchman Michael Llodra.

Sirianni struggled early, taking until early in the fourth game to win a point. The Aussie never got back into the first set, going down 6-3.

The second set was a different story as Sirianni lifted the intensity and began dictating play on his serve. Neither player managed a break forcing a tiebreak. Sirianni got the mini break and then brought up three set points at 6-3. He failed to convert but again had a set point at 8-7. He let Llodra off the hook with an easy miss and the Frenchman capitalised, sealing the set and the match 6-3 7-6(8).

The Australian said there was plenty to be taken from the match despite the loss. "I just have to take the positives out of everything," he said. "Michael played well, he served well, he’s got a great disguise on his serve. I couldn’t pick it in the first set. I got onto a few in the second.

"I had chances. If it went into the third, you never know what could happen. I don’t think he was used to the conditions today even though he has played a few matches in extreme heat."

He said the success of the week had taught him a lot. "Just knowing that I can compete with the top guys," he said. "I’ve proven to myself that I can do it. It’s all a bonus for me at the moment.

"It’s been amazing. Throughout the year I made heaps of goals and have achieved them all except making the top 100. So that’s the next goal. I’m looking forward to it."

Sirianni’s efforts this week have seen him secure a special exemption place in the main draw at the Medibank International in Sydney next week, where he has drawn a qualifier. His progression in Adelaide would have seen him miss the start of qualifying in Sydney. His semifinal performance also saw him pocket a cool US$22,050 in prizemoney and earn 75 rankings points, which is likely to move him into the top 150.

Llodra said his experience may have helped and that it was nice to see new faces at the highest level. "I started well, I did a couple of good first serves," he said.

"I think probably he was a bit nervous. I have more experience than him so maybe that’s helped me a little bit. "It’s good to see some new guys on the tour. I saw him (Sirianni) many times, especially in Australia. He has a very good backhand. If he continues like that I think we’re going to see more of him on the tour."

In the day’s other semifinal Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen gave Lleyton Hewitt’s conqueror, sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a straight sets hiding. Nieminen broke early in the match and again late in the first set to take the upper hand.

He never looked in trouble, handling the hot and at times windy conditions better than his opponent on the way to a 6-2 6-4 triumph.

Australian wildcards Chris Guccione and Robert Smeets gave local fans something to smile about when they defeated second seeds Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram 6-4 6-4 in today’s doubles semifinal.

It’s the second seeded team the Aussies have beaten this week and they will now face fourth seeds Martin Garcia and Marcelo Melo in tomorrow’s final.

Results – day six, singles, semifinals:
Michael Llodra (FRA) d [WC] Joseph Sirianni (AUS) 6-3 7-6(8)
[3] Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) d [6] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 6-2 6-4

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i just emailed sirianni (or his manager, don't know) and invited him to join tennisopolis. is there a snowball's chance in hell? you never know. ;-)



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