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Nieminen trumps Benneteau in Sydney final



Sydney, Australia (Sports Network) - Jarkko Nieminen posted a 6-2, 7-5 victory over France's Julien Benneteau on Sunday to capture the $434,250 Apia International Sydney, a tuneup for the Australian Open, which begins on Monday.

Nieminen appeared in his 12th career ATP final and secured only his second career tournament victory -- ending a six-year title drought. The Finn has also defeated Benneteau in all five of their meetings.

Nieminen entered the tournament No. 77 in the ATP rankings and was a qualifier. He was pushed to three sets in his second round win over eighth- seeded Radek Stepanek, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-1, but won his other three matches leading up to the final in straight sets.

He is the first qualifier to win an ATP World Tour title since Sergiy Stakhovsky lifted the St. Petersburg crown in 2009.

"I tried to focus and win every point I could," Nieminen said. "I think I managed to do that pretty well. 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."

Benneteau on the other hand, entered the week 49th in the ATP rankings and unseeded, but cruised to final without losing a set. He knocked off Andreas Seppi and fourth-seeded Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, then defeated Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-2, 6-4 and Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 6-4.

Nieminen got the better of the play, getting 80 percent of his first serves in to only 60 percent for Benneteau. Nieminen also won 74 percent (32-of-43) of first-serve points, while double-faulting only once.

Nieminen also won 70 percent (38-of-54) of his service points, while Benneteau converted only 56 percent (32-of-57) of his service points.

For Benneteau, he drops to 0-6 in his career in ATP final events and his last runner-up finish came last August in the Winston-Salem Open when he lost to American John Isner.

"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."

This was the first time two players 30-years-old or older met in an ATP final event since 2007.

Nieminen collected $78,360 for the victory.

01/15 00:12:31 ET