Viktor Troicki successfully defended his Apia International crown on Saturday after clinching a comeback victory over Grigor Dimitrov, triumphing 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7), following a slow start in Sydney.
The duo produced a roller-coaster curtain-closer, sharing two very one-sided sets before playing out a nail-biting finish in Sydney, where Troicki came out on top of the tiebreak ending.
Earlier in the day, Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares claimed a 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea in the men's doubles final.
Read on for the recap and reaction to Troicki's victory at the Apia International 2016.
Troicki quickly found his back was pinned to the wall in Saturday's final, and the Serbian lost serve in the opening game at the start of what panned out to be a spotless first set from his opponent.
Dimitrov maintained a winning record on his serve to open a two-game cushion, winning 33 percent of all return points faced in the first set, per FlashScore.com. Troicki was far inferior with just 12 percent.
It was a similar start to the one Troicki made against Teymuraz Gabashvili in the semifinal prior to claiming a 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win, and Dimitrov continued to assert his dominance. The Bulgarian won to love in his second and third service games to lead 3-1 and then 4-2.
Another break followed as Dimitrov extended his lead to three games before serving out the first set, and Tennis TV provided evidence it was a higher unforced error count that was hurting the defending champion most:
Tennis TV @TennisTV
Great performance from @GrigorDimitrov so far. First set numbers v #Troicki. https://t.co/kRsZ9uv0ca https://t.co/KFi3Y1gz2K2016-1-16 09:13:30
But, as was the case against Gabashvili, Troicki thundered back in style and began to hit some powerful forehand shots down the line that Dimitrov couldn't deal with in the second set.
Craig O'Shannessy detailed Dimitrov's wide serve as taking effect, but the scoreline suggested otherwise, as it came Troicki's turn to dominate en route to a 6-1 victory to level the set score at one apiece:
Craig O'Shannessy @BrainGameTennis
62 02 #Dimitrov is having a lot of success serving wide v #Troicki, opening the court to attack. #moreatpwithInfosys https://t.co/R8FTctlMHR2016-1-16 09:22:07
The Serb brought his error count down, and Dimitrov's three double-faults in the second undoubtedly helped his foe gain a foothold. Troicki conceded just four points in the six second-set games he won, showing just how swiftly the tables had turned in Sydney.
Despite the drastic twist in events, Live Tennis asserted Troicki was still leaving openings for his opponent, who just wasn't capitalising upon them:
Following two one-sided sets, the decider proved to be a far tighter affair, and for the first time in the match, both players successfully defended their opening serves to tie 1-1.
A total of nine break points were played in the first five games, but neither finalist bent under pressure. The pair continued to exchange blows until Troicki edged out a temporary advantage late on.
The 2015 champion looked to have sealed victory when he broke for a 5-4 lead and had the chance to serve out the match, but Dimitrov unleashed a terrific backhand to tie the scores once again. Troicki found himself under pressure to stay in the tie and managed to force a grandstand finish as the match went to a tiebreak.
The high-octane action continued until the very end, and a massive stretch volley saw Troicki weather the storm to clinch a 9-7 win in the tiebreak as ANZ's Julia Duong hailed both players' final displays:
Julia Duong @juliaduong
Troicki defends his #SydneyTennis title defeating Dimitrov 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(7). BIG credit to both players - what a thrilling final set!2016-1-16 10:59:10
Earlier on Saturday, Murray and Soares defeated Bopanna and Mergea 6-3, 7-6 (6) in just their second tournament as a doubles team to triumph in Sydney.
Speaking to the official ATP website after their win, Murray, elder brother of world No. 2 Andy, told of his and Soares' tactics after they hit back from 5-0 down in the second-set tiebreak to emerge as victors:
Bruno said at 5-0, 'Let's hang around and see what happens.' We managed to play a couple of good points, which got us back in it. We won eight of the next nine points. I think it was testament to us. We fought hard this week. We came through a lot of close battles and we're really excited to win our first title together.
It looks to be the start of a budding relationship between the Scot and the Brazilian, who head to Melbourne next week in a strong position as they seek to contend for Australian Open success.
Bopanna and Mergea were no small obstacle for the newly formed partnership, and all the signs indicate Murray and Soares could break out as a formidable force on the doubles circuit.