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Nalbandian Holds Off Nieminen To Capture Australian Warm-Up Tournament

In the finals of the Medibank International in Sydney, Argentine David Nalbandian fought off Finn Jarkko Nieminen to claim his tenth career title 6-3, 6-7, 6-2.

After dismissing two break points in his opening service game, Nalbandian used his trademark backhand to set up the points and effortlessly win his next service games. With Nieminen on deck at 2-3, Nalbandian made a forehand down the line winner and caused his opponent to overshoot for triple break point. Later, with a forehand winner, Nalbandian jumped ahead 4-2. With a high percentage of first serve and by perpetually changing the ball’s direction, David took the set in 35 minutes.

To start the second set, with a backhand error, Jarkko went down break point. Subsequently, Nieminen netted a forehand to trail 0-1. The Argentine consolidated the break with a backhand volley winner. Although Nalbandian outplayed his rival in every department, for example using the combination of a lob volley and dropshot to win a point, with the minor adjustment of hugging the baseline as the set progressed, Nieminen stayed within striking distance. As Nalbandian served for the match at 5-4, he committed two forehand errors on deep returns by Nieminen to face triple break point. The Finn capitalized when the Argentine’s money stroke, the backhand down the line, went long. Thereafter, Nalbandian erased three break points to send the set to a tiebreak. Initially, neither player could hold serve. After Nieminen took a 2-1 mini-break advantage with a backhand down the line winner, he flirted too closely to the line and gave it back. With a forehand crosscourt winner, Nalbandian went ahead 3-2. But, he also forfeited his lead on the following point. At 9 all, Nalbandian elected not to play a ball he assumed would go long; the ball curled in for a winner giving Jarkko a mini-break. With a good serve, Jarkko wrestled an error and the set from David.

With the forehand forsaking him, Nalbandian had a hard time his first game but held. That factor contributed to Nieminen holding at love his opening game. In the third game, with a forehand up the line winner, Nieminen arrived at break point. However, Nalbandian came up with a timely forehand up the line winner for deuce, then, pulled out the game for 2-1. Afterwards, helped by a net court, David converted a lob winner for break point. Nalbandian cashed it in with an unforced error by Nieminen. Promptly though, Nalbandian’s advantage was wiped away by a string of forehand errors and a double fault. Serving at 2-3, Nieminen allowed a 40-15 edge to vaporize and with an angled forehand winner, Nalbandian took a 4-2 lead. With Nieminen serving at 2-5, Nalbandian moved him corner to corner resulting in unforced errors and double break point. Finally, Nalbandian claimed the trophy with an overhead smash. A disappointing finish for the Finn who had his biggest career win in the semifinals over reigning Australian Open title holder, Novak Djokovic.

Doubles second seed, Mike and Bob Bryan, defeated top seed Nenad Zimonjic and Daniel Nestor 6-1, 7-6 to win their 50th career title.

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