Kwon Captures Maiden ATP Tour Title In Nur-Sultan
Kwon, who defeated three seeds en route to the trophy, became the second South Korean man to win a tour-level crown in the Open Era, after 2003 Sydney champion Hyung-Taik Lee.
“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 today against James. He served really well and played very well and I tried to focus every single point.”
In an entertaining match, Kwon combined his powerful groundstrokes with great variety to cause Duckworth problems. The 23-year-old saved three set points from 3/6 down in the first-set tie-break, before securing his victory after one hour and 38 minutes in his maiden ATP Tour final.
Earlier this season, Kwon reached the quarter-finals in Singapore and Marbella and enjoyed a run to the last four in Eastbourne. The unseeded South Korean also lifted his third ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Biella. The World No. 82 will move above his previous career-high of No. 69 in the FedEx ATP Rankings on Monday.
“It was a fantastic tournament and it has been an honour to play here,” Kwon added. “Thank you to my team and my coach for supporting me.”
In a tight first set, both players were strong on serve. Duckworth won 80 per cent (20/25) of points behind his first delivery, with Kwon at 86 per cent (18/21) as they played aggressively. After Duckworth saved the only break point of the set at 4-4, they moved to a tie-break where Kwon showed great resilience to battle back from 3/6 down, winning five straight points to lead.
The 23-year-old then recovered from being broken in the opening game of the second set as he raised his level in the first ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, sealing the title when Duckworth could only find the net with a forehand return.
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Duckworth, who did not drop a sent route to his maiden ATP Tour final, was aiming to become the second Australian champion in Nur-Sultan in as many years after John Millman triumphed in Kazakhstan last season.