Twenty-four hours after being at odds with tournament organisers, two-time Sydney International winner Viktor Troicki has promised to come back to Olympic Park.
The world No.22 became just the fourth player of the Open era to claim back-to-back titles in Sydney after outlasting Grigor Dimitrov 1-6 6-2 7-6 (9-7) on Saturday night.
He joins an exclusive group to successfully defend their crown at Ken Rosewall arena, including former world No.1s Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt, and American James Blake.
His third career title comes just one day after blasting organisers for failing to feature the defending champion on centre court throughout the week.
The Serbian No.2 also took exception at being forced to play his semi-final on showcourt one, where he was angered by an adjacent marquee filled with loud and boozy patrons.
But all was forgiven by tournament’s end after he emerged victorious from a two hour, 16 minute epic.
“Got to go for a third one, I guess,” an exhausted Troicki promised.
“It’s a joy playing here. It’s a lovely stadium. I really like it. I would love to come back.”
Given he has now won two of his three titles at the Olympic site, it might be in his best interests.
The 29-year-old drew on all his fighting qualities to stave off eight break points and another championship point in a thrilling final set.
Twice he pulled himself out of a 15-40 hole, and he also had to overcome a failure to close out the title on serve in the tenth game.
It was a remarkable comeback after a disastrous opening set.
Troicki said he had never experienced a closer match in any of his previous seven finals.
“But I managed to keep calm in most important points. I could have maybe managed to do better when I was serving for it,” he said.
“It’s great to win in the start of the year, to start with such a confidence the year.”
His focus now turns to Monday’s Australian Open at Melbourne Park, where he has drawn world No.77 Daniel Munoz De La Nava from Spain in the first round.
A likely date with 13th-seed Milos Raonic awaits in the round of 32.
Troicki, who hit a career-high ranking of No.12 almost five years ago but has never gone reached the final-16 of a grand slam, said he was exhausted after playing eight sets in three matches across two days.
“I couldn’t imagine what would have happened if I lost today. It would’ve been just crazy to recover from it,” he said.
“I still cannot show my emotions because I’m really tired. I don’t know how long the match was, but I just felt it was lasting forever. I ran a lot during these two days.”