Marseille - Big-serving Karen Khachanov secured the second ATP Tour title of his career after beating Lucas Pouille 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in the Open 13 final on Sunday.
The ninth-seeded Russian had 16 aces in a closely fought contest, winning on his second match point when the third-seeded Frenchman hit a forehand into the net from the back of the court. The pair hugged at the net in a show of sportsmanship.
"I hope there are many more finals between us in the future," Khachanov said to Pouille. "I felt I was playing good here from the first day. It's nice to play on a full court in the final, and I hope to come back next year."
Khachanov, ranked 47th, won his second title in as many finals after clinching the Chengdu Open in China two years ago. Pouille missed out on a second title of the season and a sixth overall. The 16th-ranked Pouille was also runner-up at the indoor event in the southern seaport of Marseille last year.
"I'm from Dunkirk, in the north," he told the crowd. "But I'm starting to feel at home here."
As Khachanov held aloft the winners' cheque for $141 570, Pouille cracked a joke in English.
"You've got to pay the plane for Dubai now," he said, looking ahead to next week's ATP 500 tournament.
"Congratulations, I hope there are many more wins for you."
They could meet in the second round there.
Khachanov broke Pouille in the third game to take early control. Pouille broke back with a fine backhand winner down the line to make it 5-5, but then lost his next service game as Khachanov whipped a forehand winner down the right side of the court.
It gave the imposing Russian a second chance to serve for the set and he clinched it with a strong service winner.
After saving two break points at 15-40 in the opening game of the second set, Pouille secured the only break of that set to level the match.
Khachanov hit nine aces in the third set and neither faced a break point until the 12th game on Pouille's serve.
It gave Khachanov a match point but he missed a fairly routine smash at the net following a rally. Pouille double faulted to give him another chance to win.