Kei Nishikori saved two championship points and then won a dramatic tie-breaker to win the XL Bermuda Open last night.
The Japanese youngster claimed his first win on the Challenger Tour, beating Serbian Viktor Troicki 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 at the Coral Beach Club.
There are not enough words in the English language to do this singles final justice, but here are a few: amazing, awesome, intense, dramatic, sensational, incredible and breathtaking.
That it was the best final the tournament has seen in its 15-year history is without question, and at the end of an epic three sets the crowd, the players and all the officials were emotionally drained.
"I'm too tired to talk," said Nishikori. "I can't believe that I have won. I am so tired mentally, and at 15-40 down in the third set I had imagined that I was going to lose."
He wasn't the only one, for much of yesterday's final Nishikori only ever looked like being one game from defeat, and yet he held on, sometimes by his fingernails.
And if victory was tough on Nishikori, defeat was twice as hard on Troicki. The Serbian had dominated for much of the match, and even going into the third set, seemed destined to win.
Where Nishikori was too tired to talk, Troicki was unable to find the words to describe his devastation at losing in such a way. So spent were both players, they appeared on the verge of tears, though for wildly differing reasons.
Troicki took the first set after breaking Nishikori in the fourth game, with the Serbian getting into his stride much more quickly than his opponent.
Nishikori struggled, trying to hit winners too early, and succeeding in only finding the net. At that stage there seemed to be only one winner, and common consensus was that it was all going to end quite quickly.
The second set appeared to be going the same way as the first, except that Nishikori battled harder, managed to cling on, and actually broke Troicki to go level at 2-2. He then had a lucky bounce at the net to save the sixth game and was scrambling to stay in the game.
His ability to return the ball from almost anywhere on the court, however, began to frustrate his opponent, and at times it looked like Troicki was reaching the end of his tether, unable to figure out how to put the match beyond Nishikori's reach.
The 18-year-old's persistence finally paid off at the end of the second set when Troicki let his concentration slip for a second, only to suddenly find himself 6-5 down. It was as much as a surprise to the crowd as it was to Troicki who seemed more than a little frustrated at finding himself in such a position.
And so to a third set that was even more dramatic than the previous two. For the first time in the match Nishikori pulled ahead, only for Troicki to recover from the intial shock of finding himself in such a poisiton to level at 3-3.
The players traded games until they stood at 6-5, and then Troicki took three quick points and was suddenly on the verge of winning again. But Nishikori, as he had done all afternoon, recovered to win the vital points.
In the tie-break Troicki again went ahead, and again he was pegged back until Nishikori made one more seemingly impossible return from the baseline to move 4-3 ahead, he hit another to get within touching distance of an improbable win, and when Troicki drove a forehand return into the net, it was all over.
The drama of the singles final followed on from a rather more sedate, but no-less enthralling doubles final, which also went to a tie-break decider.
Jim Thomas and Harel Levy came from one set down to beat Chris Haggard and Peter Luczak 6-7, 6-4, 11-9.
In another game of twists and turns, Haggard and Luzcak took the first set tie-break 7-4, then struggled after being broken in the third game of the second set.
The tie-breaker represented the entire day in microcosm. Haggard and Luczak went ahead, slipped to 5-2 down, levelled at 8-8, and then finally, dramatically, cruelly, double-faulted on their own serve to lose the match.
XL Bermuda Open
Viktor Troicki (SRB) d Carlos Berlocq (ARG), 6-3 6-4
Kei Nishikori (JPN) d Peter Luczak (AUS), 6-2 6-4
Harel Levy (ISR)/ Jim Thomas (USA) d Greg Jones (AUS)/ Donald Young (USA), 7-6(6) 6-3 10-8
Kei Nishikori (JPN) d Viktor Troicki (SRB), 2-6 7-5 7-6(5)
Harel Levy (ISR)/ Jim Thomas (USA) d Chris Haggard (RSA)/ Peter Luczak (AUS), 6-7(4) 6-4 11-9