ATP Malaysian Open: Portugal No 1 Joao Sousa claims maiden career title
Joao Sousa became the first Portuguese to win an ATP Tour title when he upset Julien Benneteau 2-6 7-5 6-4 in Malaysia.
Last Updated: 29/09/13 2:58pm
Unheralded Sousa beat top seed and world No 4 David Ferrer in the last eight and then fourth seed Juergen Melzer of Austria in the semi-finals.
The 24-year-old from Guimaraes, who is ranked 77th in the world, struggled with his serve in the opening set as the experienced Benneteau broke twice to wrap it up.
The match went with serve in the second before Sousa was forced to save a matchpoint at 5-4 down before holding and then snatching the crucial break to take the set and force a decider.
Sousa broke again in Benneteau's opening service game of the third set and he held firm, saving four break points to close out the match and falling flat on his back in delight.
"I'm so tired mentally and physically but I just feel amazing," said Sousa.
"It's just a dream come true, winning my first title here in Malaysia."
The loss was tough on fifth seed Benneteau who was searching for his first ATP Tour title in his ninth final.
But it was jubilation for right-hander Sousa, who picked up a $875,500-cheque at the event in Kuala Lumpur.