Mon, Jan 07, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Llodra outplays Nieminen to win second tour title

FOILED AGAIN The Frenchman, ranked No. 93 in the world, overcame his Finnish opponent who has now lost eight out of nine career finals

AGENCIES , ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Michael Llodra of France hits a shot between his legs during the final of the Australian men's hardcourt tennis championships in Adelaide yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Frenchman Michael Llodra won his second ATP Tour title yesterday when he outplayed third seed Jarkko Nieminen of Finland 6-3, 6-4 to win the Adelaide International.

Llodra, who only entered the main draw after his countryman Richard Gasquet pulled out on the eve of the event through injury, served and volleyed his way to victory in 76 minutes.

``I had a good feeling today, especially from the baseline,'' Llodra said. ``I was very solid until the end.''

"I came here 10 times and I lost my first final here," the Frenchman said. "So it's great to win here -- Jarkko is a fantastic player, even if he didn't win today."

"It has been a great week, and it's nice to play in such great weather. It's terrible in Paris right now, so it's really nice to play here," he said.

The title was the first for world No. 93 Llodra since he won his maiden Tour event in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, in 2004.

Llodra, who did not lose his serve all week, raced out to a perfect start, breaking Nieminen in the second game on his way to a 3-0 lead.

The world No. 27 Finn, who has now lost eight of his nine career finals, made little impression on Llodra's serve as the Frenchman took the first set in 34 minutes.

Another early break in the second set put Llodra in full command and he held his nerve to serve out for victory, clinching the title with a winning volley.

"I'd like to congratulate Michael," Nieminen said. "He had a great week and really deserves to be the champion."

"I had a great week -- not perfect, but still great. It was really great to start the year like this," the Finn said.

Martin Garcia of Argentina and Marcelo Melo of Brazil won the doubles title, beating the Australian pair of Chris Guccione and Robert Smeets 6-3, 3-6 and 10-7 in the match tiebreaker.

It was the last time that the Memorial Drive courts hosted the Australian hardcourt title. Next year, the tournament will shift to Brisbane in Queensland state and be combined with the women's hardcourts as a joint ATP-WTA event.

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