Uniondale - Kevin Anderson had already dealt with the disappointment of falling short in a final in New York.
His surprising run to the US Open final last year jump-started his climb back into the top 10, but his loss to Rafael Nadal was a painful reminder that he kept coming up short at the finish line.
Back in New York last week, the South African No 1 finally got the ending he wanted.
The top seed won the first New York Open on Sunday, beating No 2 seed Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) for his fourth career ATP Tour title.
Anderson came into Sunday 3-11 in ATP Finals, with one loss already this year.
"I have been runner-up quite a few times in my career," Anderson said. "One of the big goals I had for this year was to try to be a bit more successful in that final stage. I fell a little short earlier this year in India and it feels great to come through and get today's win. So, gives me a lot of confidence for the year."
The South African dominated the tie-breaker after a tight third set, winning the first six points and leading Querrey to slam his racquet to the court in frustration.
Anderson has moved to career-high ninth in the ATP rankings, continuing a strong rise that began in nearby Flushing Meadows when he reached his lone Grand Slam final as the world's No 32 player, the lowest-ranked US Open finalist since the inception of the rankings in 1973.
He won his first title since 2015, when he made his only other appearance in the top 10 when he was ranked 10th for one week in October. Anderson won four consecutive three-set matches in the tournament's first year at Nassau Coliseum after moving from Memphis, Tennessee.
"Obviously, during US Open was a terrific few weeks for me. It was tough to lose in the finals so it feels very special to get today's win," Anderson said.
Querrey remained at 10 ATP titles, snapping a three-match winning streak in finals. He would have risen to a career-best No 11 with a victory.
Querrey had held serve in 37 of 38 games entering this week before Anderson broke him in the second game of the final for a 2-0 lead. Querrey broke right back and broke Anderson again later in the set to move ahead.
The second set started the same way. Anderson broke again in the second game, but this time held in the third to seize control of the set en route to a 5-0 lead.
"I just kind of lost a little bit of momentum," Querrey said. "He picked his game up, he started making a few more first serves. Feel like he was hitting the ball a little bigger, making a few more. Then I kind of got some momentum back at the end of the second there but it was kind of too little, too late."
In the doubles final, the second-seeded team of Max Mirnyi of Belarus and Philipp Oswald of Austria edged Wesley Koolhof of the Netherlands and Artem Sitak of New Zealand 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 in a match tie-breaker. For the 40-year-old Mirnyi, it was his 100th career ATP Tour final, with 96 having come in doubles.