Gilles Muller of Luxembourg returns a shot to Dan Evans of Great Britain at the Sydney International.
Gilles Muller of Luxembourg returns a shot to Dan Evans of Great Britain at the Sydney International. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Veteran's title breakthrough brings out the tears

TENNIS: A tearful Gilles Muller put to bed his long and painful finals drought with a powerful and emotional victory in Sydney on Saturday night.

The 33-year-old, who had lost all five previous ATP finals in his career, broke through for his maiden win with a 7-6 6-2 victory over Britain's Dan Evans at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Muller was in tears as he told the crowd what it meant for him to claim his first title with wife Alessia Fauzzi and sons Lenny and Nils in the stands.

"I would like to thank my coach, it has been a great ride so far,” Muller said, before holding his head in his hands.

"Sorry,” he continued, "it just means so much to me to win my first title in front of my boys and my wife.”

At that point Muller broke down while the crowd went delirious in support of the big man from Luxembourg.

Muller had to scrap hard to claim the first set, winning the tie-break 7-5.

But he was in imperious touch in the second set as Evans had no answer to Muller's power game and mighty serve.

"What a night,” Muller said at his presentation.

"First let me congratulate Dan for his week, you said you wished it could be zero from six for me, but I waited a long time for this unfortunately.

"I hope you will be having this chance again soon to win another title, you're a great player, keep on going, keep up the good work.”

Winner Gilles Muller of Luxembourg (left) and Dan Evans of Great Britain following the men's final at the Sydney International.
Winner Gilles Muller of Luxembourg (left) and Dan Evans of Great Britain following the men's final at the Sydney International. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Muller, who is ranked a career-high No.34 in the world, played his first ATP final 15 years ago.

Until Saturday night, he was the highest-ranked male player never to have won a title.

But on a steamy Sydney night, with the pressure weighing heavily on his shoulders, Muller produced a performance worthy of the championship trophy he has so desperately craved for so long.

Afterwards, Muller said: "I was pretty emotional out there on the court.

"It means a lot. I was waiting a long time. Played my first final in 2004. We are 2017 now, and I waited 13 years to win my first title. I'm just very happy.

"I couldn't have imagined, when I arrived here, to be in the final. And then to win it now is just, yeah, it's crazy.

"My kids are a big motivation for me to play tennis.

"When I had my big injury in 2013, one of my motivations was to keep playing, to keep coming back so they would see and know what their dad was doing.

"And they are in the stands, watching me play, and to win this title in front of them was just amazing.

"Everything that happened tonight was like in a movie. Rod Laver there, standing on centre court with the trophy, my kids in the stands, can't ask for more.”

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