Sydney: Finland's Jarkko Nieminen will be a late arrival in Melbourne for the Australian Open but concerns about his hurried preparations are tempered by the overflowing confidence he will take into his clash with David Nalbandian on Monday night.   

World number 77 Nieminen won his second ATP Tour title when he defeated France's Julien Benneteau 6-2, 7-5 in the final of the Sydney International on Sunday.    
The decider was washed out without a point played on Saturday night, the match finally beginning at 10.30 on Sunday morning, nearly 24 hours before the start of the Australian Open in Melbourne.    

Nieminen lost his serve in the first game of the match but became far the steadier player, cruising through the first set before breaking Benneteau to love in the last game to get his hands on a trophy for the first time since Auckland 2006.   

It was a sixth loss from as many tour singles finals for Benneteau, the world number 49.   

Nieminen plays Argentina's world number 64 Nalbandian in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday night. His departure from Sydney on Sunday was further delayed by having to partner Matthew Ebden in the men's doubles final against American duo Bob and Mike Bryan.    

"I know who I play and when I play in Melbourne but I haven't thought about that much at all," Nieminen told reporters in Sydney after his victory.    

"I have gone so far in this tournament and the chance to win a title - it's not every day you get that gift. I just wanted to get this title very badly.    

"It was really nerve-wracking yesterday, waiting. We were twice very close to going onto the court. The second time, we were five minutes from getting on the court. I did the whole warm-up and then the rain came again and we had to wait again.   

"Today it looked really bad, the weather was not good again, but I'm obviously really happy to take the title."   

Nieminen and Benneteau slugged it out in front of a small crowd. Nieminen lost his first match point at 5-4 in the second set but made no mistake with his next opportunity. It was 30-year-old Nieminen's second title from 12 finals.   

"It felt strange - the stadium was not as packed as it would have been in the evening, I guess," Nieminen said.    

"It was a different feeling, but I tried to focus to play every point as well as I can. I think I managed to do that pretty well.    

"I don't have a good record in the finals, but I felt like I haven't really done anything wrong in the finals. I got destroyed a few times and today I felt from the beginning that I had a really good chance to take a title. I had the game to do it."    

Win This Badly   

Nieminen said the adrenaline rush of winning the Sydney title had him feeling energetic but he suspected fatigue would hit him on the one-hour flight to Melbourne.    

"I feel surprisingly good," he said. "Yesterday when I had a day off and I was waiting for the doubles I was much more tired then for example now or during the week.    

"All this physical and mental stress, maybe I feel it during the flight to Melbourne but I don't know, I feel surprisingly good I have to say. I just shower now, eat a little bit of something then warm up and play doubles."    

It would be impossible to know the effect on his Australian Open chances until he started against Nalbandian, a former Wimbledon finalist.    

"I have to say it's tough to play tomorrow," he said.    

"With all this, it's tough to realise that I just won a title. This is only my second title and it would be nice to have a day off tomorrow to calm down.    

"Now I have to concentrate again, practise to get used to the courts in Melbourne. I hope it's very similar on court and the ball's supposed to be the same but it would be nice to have at least one day off before playing again and celebrate, but that's how it is.    

"I don't complain. I wanted to win this badly and I just try my best tomorrow and see how it goes."

(Agencies)