Viktor Troicki won the Sydney International for the second year in a row on Saturday, upsetting fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7).
The Serb who 18 months ago stood 847 after serving a disciplinary ban, now finds himself ranked 22nd, and set for a rise before Monday's start of the Australian Open.
Troicki put in a command performance in a struggle with former top 10 player Dimitrov whose game has gone off the boil over the past two seasons as he tries to recover a place in the ATP elite.
Troicki claimed a third career title, becoming the first repeat winner in Sydney since James Blake in 2006-2007.
The 29-year-old was playing his eighth career ATP final. He unleased a spectacular backhand crosscourt winner on match point after saving a Dimitrov match point in the tiebreaker.
"I fought to the end, it was a great match," the 29-year-old Troicki said, "Grigor had a great week but I was a bit more lucky.
"That's the game of tennis, sometimes you have the luck, sometimes you don't. It was a tough week for tennis with the weather (rain washouts).
"But I loved playing and winning here again, I hope to be back next year and try for a third trophy."
Dimitrov who reached eighth in 2014 has not won a title for two years and could not hide his sadness at coming so close, with his own match point nullified as Troicki sent over a drop shot which the Bulgarian clipped on the netcord tape.
"It's been awhile since I was in a final," Dimitrov said. "I'm disappointed but congrats to Viktor and his team.
"It was a rough week but the fans have been very supportive. With the Australian Open around the corner, we really always hope to play our best here."
The dramatic 83-minutes final set took longer that the first two sets combined, with the pair lasting for a total of less an one hour.
Troicki took a hammering in the first but rose to the occasion in the second to give Dimitrov as good as he got on long, demanding rallies from the baseline.
In the third, the Serb served for the win leading 5-4 but netted a backhand, with Dimitrov taking the match into the decider. Troicki missed on a second match-winning opportunity in the breaker before coming good on his third try.
Troicki's win broke a record going back more than a decade, with the winner of the last 12 Sydney finals winning the opening set. The last player to stage a similar comeback was Hyung-Taik Lee, who rallied to beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003.
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