Viktor Troicki has outlasted Grigor Dimitrov in an epic 82-minute third set to become just the fourth player in the Open era to claim back-to-back Sydney International tennis titles.
The world No.22 drew on all his fighting qualities to stave off a remarkable eight break points and another championship point in the deciding set and record a 1-6 6-2 7-6 (9-7) win in two hours and 16 minutes last night.
Twice the Serbian dug himself out of a 15-40 hole and also had to overcome the disappointment of failing to serve out the championship in the tenth game.
Not since American James Blake notched consecutive titles in 2006-07 has a player successfully defended the title.
Troicki also joins former world No.1s Lleyton Hewitt and Pete Sampras as rare back-to-back winners.
The third-seed was broken almost as soon as he stepped onto Ken Rosewall arena, in the opening game.
An in-form Dimitrov - who took a set off Roger Federer in Brisbane last week - plundered a stream of winners as a hesitant and flat-footed Troicki struggled to find any sort of rhythm, losing the first set in just 28 minutes.
But just as a repeat of Svetlana Kuznetsova's 55-minute shutout of Monica Puig in Friday's women's final loomed, the changeover produced a drastic flip in momentum.
Dimitrov, who just last week defeated Troicki in the second round at Brisbane, opened the door with three double faults in the opening game of the second set.
From there the Bulgarian's radar went haywire as his trademark forehand deserted him.
It was an implosion of the worst kind, not even a triple change of racquet would prevent the world No.28 failing to hold serve through the entire set.
Both players tightened their games in the third, trading big hold for big hold but it was Troicki's impressive defence that finally earned him his first victory over Dimitrov in three attempts, and a third career title.
An exhausted Troicki said he was pleased to have come through in what was a tense final set.
"This was I believe my eighth final and I never had it this close, this tight," he said.
"But I managed to keep calm in most important points. I could have maybe managed to do better when I was serving for it.
"But it's great to win again, second year in a row. I love this tournament. This was my third final, second title, and it's great feeling.
"It's great to win in the start of the year, to start with such a confidence, the year."
Dimitrov was left to rue a raft of lost opportunities.
"I had too many opportunities. I had eight break points in the third set and he put eight first serves. What can you do on that?" he said.
"After that first set I knew he was going to do something else. I think early on he got a few good calls, a few good shots, so that kind of lifted him up. I'm giving all the credit to him today."