ADELAIDE: Home favourite Thanasi Kokkinakis claimed the first ATP title of his career Saturday after downing fellow big-server Arthur Rinderknech in three sets at the Adelaide International final.
The Australian prevailed 6-7 (8/6), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes.
"I wouldn't want to win my first title anywhere else... I've been practising on this court since I was nine years old," Kokkinakis said at the awards presentation.
In-form Kokkinakis had beaten former US Open champion Marin Cilic in a three-set semi-final nerve-jangler Friday in what has been an impressive start to what he hopes is a breakout season.
In his first final in five years, Kokkinakis overcame the Frenchman's pyrotechnics with the help of his home fans.
Little separated the big-servers in a first set that almost predictably had to be decided by a tie break.
Kokkinakis had set point at 6-5 after deft play at the net brought boisterous fans to their feet.
But Rinderknech remained unperturbed to snatch the first set and his booming serve remained hard to crack.
Kokkinakis too held his own on serve and then lifted in the tie break with blistering groundstrokes to level the contest.
His momentum carried over into the third set, capturing the first break of serve in the match to gain a stranglehold.
Kokkinakis again pounced on Rinderknech's serve in the ninth game to break his title drought, sinking to his knees as the crowd erupted.
He plays German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in the first round of the Australian Open.
While Rinderknech meets Australian Alexei Popyrin in his opener.