Monaco tops Nieminen for Dusseldorf crown

Juan Monaco claimed his first title of the year with a straight-set win over Jarkko Nieminen in Saturday's final at the Power Horse Cup.

The third-seeded Monaco posted a 6-4, 6-3 triumph for his eighth career title, improving to 8-9 all-time in finals. He won four times last year, but had struggled for most of 2013 with a 10-11 match record and a semifinal appearance in Houston his best result entering the final French Open tune-up.

"It's the best preparation," said Monaco about winning before the start of the second Grand Slam of the year. "I've had a great week here, playing a couple of good matches. Especially today I played really well. So I will look forward to keep playing this way in Paris."

Monaco did not drop a set this week and on Saturday broke Nieminen for a 5-4 lead before holding serve to win the first set. The 29-year-old Argentine then broke early in the second set and again in the ninth game to close it out in just 71 minutes.

Nieminen fell to 2-11 all-time in finals and hasn't won since capturing the Sydney crown in January 2012. The 31-year-old Finn also dropped to 2-2 lifetime against Monaco.

"It would have been nice to win the whole thing here, but I made a final on clay for the first time in 10 years," said Nieminen. "That's pretty cool for me. My body feels good going into Paris."

Monaco, who picked up a first prize of $95,000, will try to carry the momentum of Saturday's win into the French Open next week. He will take on Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver in the first round, while Nieminen will meet Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in his opener at Roland Garros.