Update 11.20pm: Viktor Troicki has defended his Apia International Sydney title with a thrilling 2-6 6-1 7-6(7) finals win over Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday night.
In a compelling contest in which both men held match points in the third-set tiebreak, Troicki secured victory with a stunning backhand passing shot winner on the full stretch.
He became the first male player to win back-to-back trophies in Sydney since American James Blake in 2006-07.
“I got to admit it’s stressful. This was I believe my eighth final, and I never had it this close, this tight,” Troicki said.
“I got to say it was tough to play it, but I managed to keep calm in most important points. I could have maybe managed to do better when I was serving for it. Sometimes it happens. You got to make it more complicated.
“But, yeah, it’s great to win again, second year in a row. I love this tournament. This was my third final, second title, and it’s great feeling … to start with such a confidence the year.
“Hopefully I continue to play good. I really believe I can play good tennis, and I hope I prove it this year.”
Dimitrov was sharp from the very first ball, breaking serve in the very first game and then again in the penultimate game to pocket a one-set lead in 29 minutes.
But in the second set, his game deserted him.
He double faulted three times in the second game to drop serve and fall behind 2-0, and although he broke back immediately, Troicki was rock-solid from the baseline while Dimitrov’s groundstrokes broke down.
Troicki raced through four straight games to send the match into a deciding set.
“Especially even after that first set I knew he was going to do something else. I think early on he got a few good calls, few good shots, so that kind of lift him up,” he said.
“I’m giving all the credit to him today.”
In the third, Dimitrov settled, and the match became an absorbing tussle.
Most games were a battle at deuce, and both men were forced to save break points on the serves.
Dimitrov was the first to crack; after Troicki scorched a backhand winner up the line to lead 15-40 in the ninth game, Dimitrov responded with a backhand into the net.
Yet serving for the title, Troicki couldn’t complete the job. It was Dimitrov’s turn to hit his own backhand winner, landing a glorious one-handed stroke up the line to level at 5-5.
Ken Rosewall Arena was crackling with atmosphere and the set progressed to a tiebreak, a tense, see-sawing affair in which both men held match points.
On his second, Troicki skidded into a backhand and fired a winner crosscourt past Dimitrov at net, collapsing to his back in celebration.
“He had a lot of chances. I did, too, but I think in the start he had more. Luckily (my) serve saved me in those crucial moments. I played some smart, smart points also,” he said.
“One ball decided the match. It was my favorite shot of all at the end to win it. So many times that shot brought me a lot of happiness. That’s how I won the Davis Cup title, my last point.
“It’s really great to have a title already in the year.”