Italy's Andreas Seppi recovered from a set down to defeat Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci and win the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Sunday in a clash between two national No. 1 players.
Fourth seed Bellucci twice served for the match in the second set before Seppi, the second seed, won a tiebreak and then broke Bellucci twice in the decider to win the $673,000 ATP 250 tournament 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3.
Seppi said he felt he had broken Bellucci mentally when he stopped the Brazilian serving out the match in the second set.
"If you lose a tough second set when you are twice serving for the match, it's never easy to come back in the third. You are thinking about your chance," he said.
"At the end, maybe I was mentally a little fresher than he."
Seppi added that the title was even more special because it had been won five times by Yevgeny Kafelnikov, a childhood hero whose photo the Italian carries in his wallet.
"Some people have their girlfriend, I have Yevgeny Kafelnikov," he said of his choice of photo.
World No. 25 Seppi topped off his most successful season to date and became the first Italian to take two titles in a season since Davide Sanguinetti in 2002 after winning in Belgrade in May.
"One of my goals was always to be top 20. Now I'm very close and I'm trying to break this wall," he said.
Bellucci had come through a tough semifinal against big-serving Ivo Karlovic late Friday and imitated the Croatian at times in the final as he made eight aces on his way to winning the first set, despite the slow hard surface of the Moscow court.
Bellucci served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, but his errors gave Seppi three break points, and the Italian leveled the score when Bellucci struck a cross-court forehand well wide.
A clever drop shot on break point in the next game gave Bellucci a second chance to serve for the match, but he was broken to love. Seppi took command at 3-3 in the tiebreak, which ended when Bellucci sent a forehand long on set point.
In the decider, Seppi failed to convert a break point at 2-2 but managed to break Bellucci at 3-3 before pulling clear and ending the match with the first of two match points on Bellucci's next serve.
Seppi now leads Bellucci 2-1 in career meetings after their first encounter on a surface other than clay.
Earlier, Caroline Wozniacki edged out Sam Stosur to win the $740,000 women's event, while the Kremlin Cup ends later Sunday with an all-Russian women's doubles final.