Qualifier Jarkko Nieminen beat Julien Benneteau of France 6-2, 7-5 Sunday in the rain-delayed final of the Sydney International.
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The lefthander from Finland won his second career ATP title in his 12th final, while Benneteau lost for the sixth straight time in a tournament decider. Nieminen also became the first qualifier since Lee Hyung-taik of South Korea in 2003 to win the Sydney title.
Benneteau broke Nieminen’s service in the opening game, but that was the only time that the Finnish player lost his service in the midmorning match postponed by rain Saturday night.
”It was a bit strange starting the final so early, but I just tried to focus on every point and play my game,” Nieminen said of his first tournament win since Auckland in 2006.
”It has been many years for me since my first title, but I never stopped believing in myself and working hard.”
Nieminen plays his first-round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday against former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian. Benneteau faces Karol Beck on Tuesday.