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Kwon wins Astana Open to end South Korean wait for ATP title

2021 US Open - Day 2

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 31: Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea celebrates against Reilly Opelka of the United States on Day Two of the 2021 US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 31, 2021 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan -- Kwon Soon-woo became the first South Korean tennis player for 18 years to win a men’s tour title as he beat James Duckworth 7-6 (6), 6-3 in the final of the Astana Open.

In his first tour final, Kwon saved three set points in the first-set tiebreak after going 6-3 down before winning five consecutive points to take the set. Duckworth broke Kwon in the first game of the second set but struggled to hold his own serve, landing just 33% of first serves in the second set, and was broken twice in reply.

Lee Hyung-Taik was the last South Korean to win a tour event when he beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final of the Sydney International in 2003. Chung Hyeon won the NextGen Finals in 2017, but that high-profile competition for younger players wasn’t a full tour event and didn’t offer ranking points.

Duckworth was playing in his first tour-level final and hadn’t dropped a set in the tournament before the final.