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Rediff.com  » Sports » Nalbandian clinches Sydney title

Nalbandian clinches Sydney title

January 17, 2009 18:11 IST

David Nalbandian made his Australian Open credentials clear to all concerned on Saturday by swiping the Sydney International title.

Certainly his final opponent Jarkko Nieminen was left in no doubt as to the burly Argentine's determination as Nalbandian ground out a gutsy 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 win on a chilly night under floodlights.

The second set was tight but in essence the gulf in class between the world number 11 and his Finnish opponent was vast for much of the clash.

The dark-shirted Nalbandian was all gritted teeth and clenched fist as he took his 10th career title from 20 finals.

Nieminen, who beat world number three Novak Djokovic on Friday, was simply unable to keep up with the Argentine's viciously punched groundstrokes and superior courtcraft.

The only slip Nalbandian made was when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set he allowed his focus to blur and was broken to love.

That momentary momentum shift buoyed Nieminen -- or Nemo as the Sydney crowd affectionately branded him -- and he held three set points at 6-5 but Nalbandian fought back to force a tiebreak.

Nieminen needed six more in the tiebreak before finally levelling the match but Nalbandian eased into the driving seat once again in the third.

The tennis was not always pretty and Nalbandian showed more than his fair share of nerves but that was matched by grit and determination as he closed out the match on his second championship point with a smash.

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