SYDNEY, Australia -- Bernard Tomic of Australia won his first ATP title on Saturday, beating South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3 in the Sydney International final.
The 20-year-old Tomic dominated the first set, but the big-serving Anderson won 24 of 26 points on his serve in the second and played more aggressively than his opponent as he tried to get back into the match.
Tomic made three unforced errors in the tiebreaker, including a floating backhand long on set point to send the match into a third set.
Tomic broke Anderson at 4-3 in the decider, shortly after the South African had called for a fresh pair of shoes from the locker room, and then held serve to close out the match at Olympic Park.
"It's an amazing feeling," an emotional Tomic said after receiving the Ken Rosewall Trophy from the Australian legend.
"It's an honour to have won my first tournament in front of you," Tomic said, referring to Rosewall. "It's been a long road, but finally I have one of these trophies."
Tomic has had a resurgent start to the year, including a win over No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup in Perth two weeks ago, after a forgettable 2012.
Two weeks ago, it was reported that Australia Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter told Tomic that he would not be in the team to play Taiwan in a first-round Asia-Oceania zone match in Taipei from Feb. 1-3.
Tomic saw his ATP ranking slide from No. 27 in June to 52nd, and he faced questions about his performance at the U.S. Open in September after losing in straight sets to American Andy Roddick.
In late October, police were called to a Surfers Paradise high-rise apartment building after residents saw two men, one of them naked, wrestling and fighting in a hot tub on the balcony. One of the men was later identified as Tomic.
On Nov. 5, Tomic was fined $1,750 and put on a 12-month good-behaviour bond after facing a Gold Coast court in Queensland state over four driving charges resulting from twice being stopped by police in January.
Saturday's win will see Tomic's ranking climb more than 20 places, possibly as high as No. 43, when the Australian Open begins on Monday, reclaiming the Australian top spot over Marinko Matosevic.
He is the ninth Australian winner of the Sydney event and first since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.
The match win was Tomic's eighth straight and completed a remarkable Open preparation.
In addition to beating Djokovic at the Hopman Cup, he later beat Tommy Haas and Andreas Seppi in Perth, before beating higher-ranked players Matosevic (47), Florian Mayer (26), Andreas Seppi and Anderson (36) in Sydney.
Tomic will begin his Australian Open campaign on Tuesday against Argentina's Leonardo Mayer and could meet Roger Federer if he reaches the third round.