SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Viktor Troicki will go into tennis' Australian Open with his confidence sky high, after retaining his title at the Sydney International with a thrilling 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) victory over Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday.
The tough 29-year-old Serb, who won the title as a qualifier last year, looked dead and buried after Dimitrov coasted through the first set but evened up the contest when the talented Bulgarian suffered a second-set meltdown.
The crowd at Ken Rosewall Arena were then treated to top-quality tennis, during which both players had championship points before Troicki kissed the line with an angled cross-court winner to take the third set tie-break 9-7.
"What a match! We really fought until the end," Troicki, whose victory extended his winning streak at Olympic Park to 12 matches, said after the presentation ceremony.
"I guess I was just a bit more lucky at the end but this is the game of tennis, sometimes you have luck and sometimes you don't."
Dimitrov showed off all his weapons in the absorbing two hour, 16 minute contest but will rue not making the most of his chances to clinch his first title in 18 months.
Foremost among those was the net volley he had on championship point in the tie-break, which the 24-year-old only managed to flick into the tape.
It was a second-set performance that was as disappointing as his first set was impressive that his new coach Franco Davin will have to ponder most, however.
The former Wimbledon semi-finalist served up three double faults to lose his opening service game and then simply crumbled, the nadir coming when he tried a between-the-legs trick shot and completely fluffed it.
"It's been a while since I was in a final, I'm pretty disappointed," said Dimitrov, before thanking a stony-faced Davin.
Troicki, who has battled his way back up the rankings after serving a one-year ban for missing a doping test, is a dangerous man to give a break to and it is he who will now travel to Melbourne Park with momentum.
The world No. 22 plays Spain's Daniel Munoz de la Nava in the Australian Open first round and Dimitrov faces Italy's Paolo Lorenzi.