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Tennis round-up: Tearful Muller wins in Sydney for first tour title

January 14, 2017 20:02 IST

An emotional Gilles Muller clinched a first ATP Tour title in his 17th year as a professional when he beat Briton Dan Evans 7-6(5), 6-2 to win the Sydney International on Saturday.

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg gets emotional after winning the Sydney International men's final against Daniel Evans of Great Britain at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Sydney on SaturdayThe 33-year-old left-hander from Luxembourg had lost all five of his previous tour finals but prevailed at the sixth attempt in the Australian Open warm-up event at the Olympic Tennis Centre.

Muller raised his arms aloft in triumph after converting his third championship point off his second serve to conclude the final in a shade under an hour-and-a-half on Ken Rosewall Arena.

"Wow, what a night, I've waited a long time for this," the world number 34 said after receiving the trophy from Australian tennis great Rod Laver.

"I'm sorry," he added, fighting in vain to hold back the tears.

"It just means so much to me to win the first time on the ATP in front of my boys and my wife."

Evans, ranked in the high 700s in the world only a couple of years ago but destined to hit a career high 51 on Monday, was also seeking a first Tour title but failed to come to terms with the variety of Muller's serve.

The 26-year-old held his own in a tight first set without putting enough pressure on his opponent to conjure up a single break point.

Muller always looked like having the edge with his serve-volley game and made it count with a forehand smash at the net to seal the first set tiebreak.

The second set was a more one-sided affair and Evans sank to his haunches and banged his racket on the court in frustration after being broken for the second time.

Muller raced to 40-0 while serving for the match but the nerves caught up with him and he double-faulted on his first championship point and went long on his second.

Again on the third, his first serve let him down as he looked for a 13th ace to seal the victory but his angled second effort had enough on it to force the error out of Evans and the title was his.

"Well done to Gilles, I was hoping it was going to be six losses in finals but it wasn't to be," Evans said with a grin.

Muller faces American Taylor Fritz in the first round of the Australian Open next week, while Evans takes on Argentine Facundo Bagnis at MelbournePark.

Qualifier Mertens clinches maiden WTA crown in Hobart

Belgian qualifier Elise Mertens completed her fairytale run at the Hobart International by beating third seed Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-1 to clinch her maiden WTA Tour title on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, ranked 127th in the world, was broken in her first service game by her more experienced Romanian opponent but rallied to become the third qualifier to win the Hobart title after Mona Barthel (2012) and Garbine Muguruza (2014).

Mertens had passed up the chance to qualify for the Australian Open singles draw by remaining in Hobart and was rewarded for her loyalty to the tournament when she wrapped up the title in 74 minutes.

World number 40 Niculescu will have little time to recover from missing out on a fourth career title before she opens her 10th Australian Open campaign against a qualifier in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Australian tennis player Puttergill banned for betting on matches

Australian tennis player Calum Puttergill has been suspended for six months and fined $10,000 for placing bets on matches, the Tennis Integrity Unit has said.

Puttergill, ranked 891 in doubles and 1,207 in singles, used two accounts to place 291 bets on matches between May 2012 and November 2014. None involved matches he was playing, the TIU said.

The final three months of the ban and $5,000 of the fine have been suspended on the condition the 23-year-old does not commit any further offences prior to July 11, 2017.

The TIU released its 2016 annual report earlier this week, showing an increase in the number of investigations and prosecutions.

The sport was embarrassed by a report released on the opening day of last year's Australian Open which alleged the unit had failed to deal with widespread match-fixing.

Tennis authorities at the time rejected media reports that 16 current or former top 50 players had been repeatedly flagged to the TIU over suspicions they had thrown matches in the past decade, and promised to provide the watchdog with more resources.

Image: Gilles Muller of Luxembourg gets emotional after winning the Sydney International men's final against Daniel Evans of Great Britain at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre in Sydney on Saturday

Photograph: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

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