Troicki Edges Dimitrov In Dramatic Fashion

Serb repeats as champion in Sydney

Viktor Troicki retained his Apia International Sydney crown in dramatic fashion on Saturday night, saving one match point in a pulsating third set to edge Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(7).

"It's great to win again, second year in a row," said Troicki, who also finished runner-up in Sydney in 2011 (l. to Simon). "I love this tournament. This was my third final, second title, and it's a great feeling. It's great to win at the start of the year, to start the year with such confidence. Hopefully I continue to play well. I really believe I can play good tennis, and I hope I prove it this year." 

Troicki became the first repeat winner in Sydney since James Blake in 2006-07 as he prevailed in two hours and 17 minutes. The Serb captured his third ATP World Tour title (3-5 finals record), adding to his success in Sydney last year (d. Kukushkin) and victory in Moscow in 2010 (d. Baghdatis).

The fourth-seeded Dimitrov was chasing his fifth ATP World Tour title and made a strong start to the pair’s third meeting, racing to a one-set lead. Troicki hit back strongly though. The Serb relinquished an early service break in the second set, but recouped his lead with two more breaks to level the match.

In a gripping third set, Troicki looked to have made a decisive breakthrough when he broke for a 5-4 lead. But the Belgrade native was broken to 30 when serving for the match as Dimitrov came roaring back. In the ensuing tie-break, Troicki was denied a match point at 6-5, before saving one for Dimitrov at 7-6.

Ultimately, the 29-year-old Troicki closed the match in fitting fashion, finding the outside edge of the line with a backhand passing shot on his second match point. It marked his first win in three attempts over Dimitrov and avenged the defeat he suffered to the Bulgarian just last week in Brisbane.

"One ball decided the match," said Troicki. "It was my favourite 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. I couldn't imagine what would have happened if I lost today. It would've been just crazy to recover from it.

"He played great tennis at the start and he didn't give me a chance," continued the Serb. "I was like, 'Okay, this is not going to last too long if I don't change it.' Luckily I raised my energy and started playing better tennis. He started missing in the second set and gave me a chance to come back.

"Then in the third set it was open. I was serving at 5-4. I don't know what happened there. Just glad in the end. It could have gone either way. I was maybe a bit more fortunate to win in the end. I've got to admit it's stressful. This was I believe my eighth final, and I've never had it this close, this tight."

Troicki also bucked the trend of recent Sydney finals. The past 12 Sydney champions had all won the first set of the title match.

The 24-year-old Dimitrov fell to a 4-3 finals record. The right-hander had been looking to lift his first trophy since triumphing at The Queen’s Club in June 2014.

"It's never easy losing from a match point," said Dimitrov. "It's in the game. Obviously it was Viktor's day today. I think everything was pretty much going on his side.

"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 lifted him up. I'm giving all the credit to him today. It's been a while for me to be in a final. I think even early on I was nervous, but I still played good tennis.

"I'm happy to have that feeling back; happy to feel like those little butterflies again. That's the most important thing for me right now."