Britain’s Jack Draper missed out on the first ATP Tour title of his career as opponent Jiri Lehecka fought back to win 4-6 6-4 6-3 in the Adelaide final.
Draper, 22, started impressively in a quality contest but paid the price for a dip at the end of the second set.
Finely balanced at 4-4, Draper lost the next five games as Lehecka levelled the match and moved 3-0 up in the decider.
The 22-year-old Czech saved three break points from 40-0 down for 4-1 and then served out to win his maiden ATP title.
Draper cut a frustrated figure in the deciding set, expressing his annoyance by shouting underneath a towel at one changeover and receiving a warning for hitting the ball out of the court after Lehecka held serve in the fifth game.
Nevertheless, Draper will take plenty of positives as he travels to Melbourne for the Australian Open.
“This is why I train and work hard, hopefully I can play in many more big finals like this,” said the British number four, who will move up to 55th in the world after this performance.
Draper reached a career-high ranking of 38th early last year, but dropped out of the top 100 after missing three months in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury.
It was the latest in a long line of physical issues which have hampered the powerful left-hander.
After regaining fitness, he reached the last 16 at the US Open in September and continued to perform strongly in the latter stages of 2023. The highlight was contesting his first tour-level final at the Sofia Open in October, although he was beaten to the title by experienced Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the final.
Draper’s Davis Cup team-mate Joe Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram took the doubles title in Adelaide, narrowly beating Indian-Australian duo Rohan Bopanna and Matt Ebden.
Salisbury and Ram won the first set 7-5 before losing the second by the same score. The final set went all the way to the 20th game as they secured the set 11-9.
Salisbury and Ram are the current ATP Finals doubles champions and won the US Open title together last September. BBC