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Saturday, January 14, 2012
Jarkko Nieminen tops Julien Benneteau

Associated Press

SYDNEY -- Finnish qualifier Jarkko Nieminen won the Sydney International for his second ATP title, beating France's Julien Benneteau 6-2, 7-5 on Sunday in the rain-delayed final.

Nieminen was making his 12th finals appearance, while Benneteau lost for the sixth straight time in a championship match. Nieminen, the first qualifier since Lee Hyung-taik in 2003 to win the event, also won the 2006 in Auckland.

"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. "It has been many years for me since my first title, but I never stopped believing in myself and working hard."

Benneteau broke Nieminen's service in the opening game, but that was the only time the Finnish left-hander lost his service in the match postponed by rain Saturday night.

Nieminen open the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday against former Wimbledon finalist David Nalbandian. Benneteau will face Karol Beck on Tuesday.