Soonwoo Kwon became a first time ATP champion in Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan, when he won the Astana Open by defeating James Duckworth 7-6(6) 6-3 after 95-minutes in a final featuring two unseeded players.
“I am really happy to win my first ATP 250 title,” Kwon said. “I am just really, really happy to win today. It was a tough match against James. He served really well and played very well and I tried to focus every single point.”
Kwon is the first South Korean ATP champion since Hyung-Taik Lee at 2003 Sydney.
“It was a fantastic tournament and it has been an honour to play here,” Kwon said. “Thank you to my team and my coach for supporting me.”
En route to the win, the 23-year-old Kwon upset three seeds in Dusan Lajovic, Laslo Djere and, in the semi-finals, home favourite Alexander Bublik. He’ll move 25 spots to a new career-high ranking of No. 57. The top seeded Russian Aslan Karatsev fell in his opener to Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.
In a tight first set, both players were strong on serve. Duckworth winning 80 per cent of points behind his first delivery, with Kwon at 86 per cent as the pair played out an aggressive game.
Duckworth saved the only break point of the set at 4-4, forcing the set into a tie-break where Kwon showed great resilience to battle back from 3-6 down, winning five straight points, including fending off three set points, to snatch the opener.
Earlier this season, Kwon reached the quarter-finals in Singapore and Marbella and enjoyed a run to the last four in Eastbourne.