Mirza Basic scored the biggest victory of his career as he edged past Marius Copil, 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 6-4, in the final of the Sofia Open.
The Bosnian sank to his knees when victory was sealed after two hours and 21 minutes, just reward for a grueling week in which the new world number 74 was forced to win seven matches after coming through the qualifying rounds.
He joins Damir Dzumhur - after his triumph in St. Petersburg last year - as a Bosnian ATP title winner and he was forced to grind for his victory over Copil.
The challenge before the encounter for Basic was being able to produce the level he displayed against Stan Wawrinka in the semifinal but he was solid behind his serve and consistent from the back of the court.
“It’s a special day for me,” he beamed courtside. “I won a tournament and I moved up into the top 100.”
“There are so many good players outside the top 100 who are just not able to get these chances to play. This week I got this chance to play the main draw and I played really well.”
The Bosnian battled a back problem throughout the match, requiring treatment at the end of the second set.
But he shook off any niggles to break decisively in the ninth game of the deciding set to move tantalisingly close to his career breakthrough.
The opening set was markedly cagey, with the pair exchanging breaks of serve and it was Basic who edged the tie-break.
He squandered a set point as Copil served but steadied himself to take the opener in 47 minutes.
The Romanian was struggling to land first serves but on the occasions in which he landed the first deal he was outgunning Basic.
He broke the Bosnian’s serve in the opening game of set two but he blew the chance to serve to level the match at 5-4.
The second tie-break of the afternoon swung in the direction of Copil, however, as he rallied back from 3-0 down to set-up a nerve-rattling decider.
Both players raised their level as the Bosnian saved a pair of break opportunities in the second game.
However, it was Basic who struck at the decisive moment and it is he who can reflect on a maiden title success.