Italian teenager Jannik Sinner saved a match point before battling past Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(4) in a three-hour tussle to reach the final of the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne on Saturday.
The 19-year-old Sinner looked set for a straightforward win after leading by a set and a break, but second seed Khachanov hit back with successive breaks to force a decider.
The Italian, who won his maiden ATP title in Sofia at the end of the 2020 season, failed to close out the match at 5-3 in the final set and found himself on the brink when he faced a match point at 5-6.
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But Sinner rallied to hold serve before clinching the decisive tie break to extend his winning streak to nine matches.
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Sinner, who trained alongside Rafa Nadal in Adelaide in the lead-up to the event, said he was reaping the rewards of rubbing shoulders with the 20-time Slam winner.
"For a 19-year-old to practice with a player who won 20 Slams is the best preparation I could get," Sinner said.
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"I think it's been two fantastic weeks. I just want to thank him for the preparation which I believe is much more important than playing the tournament as I can learn many things from him."
Sinner faces compatriot Stefano Travaglia in the final of the Australian Open warm-up event on Sunday after he downed Brazil's Thiago Monteiro in straight sets.
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