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.
But Sinner rallied to hold serve before clinching the decisive tie break to extend his winning streak to nine matches.
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.
“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.