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Nieminen Wins Sydney Title To End Drought

Sydney, Australia

Nieminen© AFP/Getty ImagesJarkko Nieminen won his second career title Sunday in Sydney.

Jarkko Nieminen ended a six-year title drought on Sunday, defeating Julien Benneteau 6-2, 7-5 in an all 30-over final at the Apia International Sydney to win his second career trophy. "I tried to focus and win every point I could. I think I managed to do that pretty well," said Nieminen.

"I don't have a good record in finals, but I don't think I've done anything wrong in the ones I've played. Today I felt I had a really good chance to take the title as I had the game to do it. It's been many years since that first title and I had many finals after that, but I'm pretty good at believing in myself."

After Benneteau broke the Finn in the first game, the match belonged to Nieminen. He converted four breaks of serve, and won 74 per cent of his first serve points to improve his undefeated record against the Frenchman to a 5-0 mark. "I had one of the best off-seasons," revealed Nieminen. "I stayed healthy and felt I was playing really good the whole of December, and practising hard. Maybe I'm more relaxed and experienced now, and don't have anything to prove with myself."

Nieminen is the first qualifier to win an ATP World Tour title since Sergiy Stakhovsky lifted the St. Petersburg crown in 2009. Nieminen’s previous triumph came at the Heineken Open in 2006, and this week’s ATP World Tour 250 event in Sydney was the 147th tournament he competed in since winning his first title in Auckland. He is now 2-10 in title matches.

Benneteau was bidding to win his first title, and fell to a 0-6 final record with the loss. He was aiming to become the first player over 30 to capture his first ATP World Tour title in nearly seven years, since Australian Wayne Arthurs, 33, won at Scottsdale in 2005. "It was a good week, but not the finish I wanted, as I hoped today I would win," Benneteau said. "Jarkko played very well, but I could have done better. It's a good start to the year. My goal is to win a tournament and to be a better player."

The two were contesting the first all 30-over final since 2007, when 30-year-old Carlos Moya topped 33-year-old Andrei Pavel to win the Umag trophy.

Nieminen later finished runner-up with Matthew Ebden in the doubles final to World No. 1 pairing Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan. The American twins won 6-1, 6-4.

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