Lucky loser Soonwoo Kwon has become a deserved winner, prevailing in a fluctuating Adelaide International 2 final against Roberto Bautista Agut.
The South Korean lost in qualifying for the event but was a late call-up for the first round.
He made the most of it, combining aggressive stroke play with a keen resolve to find a way past the irrepressible Spaniard 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-4) on Saturday night.
The win made him the only South Korean to win multiple ATP titles and came after he looked gone, down 0-2 and facing a double break in the deciding set.
But the 25-year-old world No.84 held serve then broke back, the players then trading breaks again before the underdog stepped up again in the tie-break.
“So many people are watching in TV in Korea, thanks to the fans in here, supporting me,” a bashful Kwon said before addressing his fans in Korean.
It was an 11th final loss for 34-year-old, world No.26 Agut, who had ended local hope Thanasi Kokkinakis‘s run in the semi-finals a day earlier.
Kwon won just three games in a first-round loss in last week’s Adelaide tournament, then lost in qualifying for the second event.
But the 2021 Nur-Saltan champion jagged a spot as a replacement and then blazed away, with a first-round Australian Open date with world No.123 Christopher Eubanks his next task.
“He played an amazing final, we played a nice match and I wish him luck,” Bautista Agut said.
“I always play good tennis here, now it’s time to think of Melbourne.”