Michael Llodra Downs Jarkko Neiminen in Adelaide Final
This article is from atptennis.com
Unseeded Frenchman Michael Llodra (pictured) claimed his second career ATP singles title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over third-seeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen at the Next Generation Adelaide International on Sunday.
The big-serving Llodra broke early in each set, serving six aces and winning 79% of the points on his own serve in sealing victory in one hour and 17 minutes. Llodra also enjoyed success in Nieminen’s service games, holding 14 break points against the Finn – although only converting twice.
The 27-year-old celebrated his victory by jumping into the River Torrens, the river that flows through the city of Adelaide and passes right by the Memorial Drive Stadium.
The victory earns Llodra his first hard court title. His maiden ATP singles title came at ‘s-Hertogenbosch on grass four years ago (d. Coria). The Frenchman reached his maiden tour final in Adelaide in 2004, but lost out to Dominik Hrbaty on that occasion. He now improves to 2-2 lifetime in ATP singles finals.
“I had a good feeling today especially from the baseline and I was very solid until the end and I'm very happy to win of course, but also to play like that,” said Llodra. “I knew before the match he's going to be tough because he's a good returner but I know also when I serve good its tough for the guy to return.
“This win will give me a lot of confidence for sure. When I came here I was the last one into the tournament but I made good preparation in December and I knew I could play good. I played in my first ATP final at this tournament and now I win the last tournament in Adelaide so it is good history for me.”
World No. 96 Llodra, who was the last direct acceptance into the main draw, raced to the title victory without the loss of a single set. He took out compatriot and No. 4 seed Gilles Simon in the first round, before following up with victories over Evgeny Korolev, Benjamin Becker, and Joseph Sirianni. He now improves to a tournament standing of 10-3 in Adelaide.
2007 was highlighted for Llodra with his third Grand Slam doubles crown, which he claimed at Wimbledon with compatriot Arnaud Clement. In singles action, the World No. 96 finished the season ranked inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the third successive year.
World No. 27 Nieminen (pictured right), who had held a 1-0 head-to-head lead over Llodra, now slips to 1-7 in ATP singles finals. His lone win came in Auckland on hard court two years ago (d. Ancic). The 27-year-old, who was bidding to become the first Finn to win the title, was appearing in his first title match since falling to Roger Federer in Basel last year.
“Obviously it was a great way to start the year but unfortunately it wasn't the perfect week because Michael played well today,” conceded Nieminen. “I just didn't put enough returns in and I didn't have good chances to break him. I think the court suited him well and with this hot weather the ball is going fast in the air and it makes him very tough to break.
“Still this is a great way to start the year and my goal here was to get a lot of matches and I got the maximum amount of matches, so this is a great way to begin the season.”
Last season, Nieminen finished inside the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings for the third successive year. A former semifinalist in Adelaide, he now slips to 9-4 at the event.
AP Photo/David Mariuz