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Tennis: Russia’s Tursunov wins Sydney International title

by Robert Smith* Russian Dmitry Tursunov beat power-serving Australian Chris Guccione in two tiebreak sets to win the Sydney International men's title yesterday.Tursunov broke the deadlock in both sets to win 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4) in 1hr 22min.The Californian-based Russian won his fourth career ATP title following tournament wins in Indianapolis and Bangkok last year and Mumbai in 2006.Tursunov also became the first Russian since Wimbledon champion Alex Metreveli in 1972 to win the Sydney International title, formerly the NSW Open.There were no break point opportunities in the two sets and Guccione lost despite dropping just 10 points in his 12 service games.The 35th-ranked Tursunov was a member of the Russian team that lost the Davis Cup final 4-1 to the United States in Portland, Oregon, early last month.Guccione, ranked 125, was playing in his second ATP final after losing to Serbia's Novak Djokovic in Adelaide last year.The tall Australian left-hander, who received a wildcard into the tournament, reached the final after wins over Spanish qualifier Alberto Martin, sixth-seeded compatriot Lleyton Hewitt, fourth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and unseeded Czech Radek Stepanek.Seeded 32 at next week's Australian Open, Tursunov has a first-round match against Belgium's Xavier Malisse, while Guccione takes on Asia's leading player South Korean Lee Hyung-Taik.It was the first men's final at the Sydney International tournament between two unseeded players since Lleyton Hewitt beat Jason Stoltenberg in the all-Australian final in 2000.Tursunov pounced with two mini-breaks in the opening tiebreaker and clinched the opening set seven points to three when Guccione hit an unforced backhand into the net.Again games went with serve in the second set and Tursunov had early control after rifling a volley as Guccione positioned at the net.

He brought up two match points with a rasping return of serve and then forced Guccione to hit wide on the first match point to claim the title.