Bernard Tomic has to qualify for the main draw in Chengdu after being ranked 123rd but that wasn't an obstacle for him, going all the way to conquer his fourth ATP title and the first since Bogota in 2015. In a thrilling final, Tomic saved four match points in the deciding set tie break against the top seed Fabio Fognini for a 6-1 3-6 7-6 win and his biggest success on the Tour in years and a return into the Top 100 for the first time since August 2017. This was their fourth meeting on the Tour and the first since Madrid 2016, with Tomic overcoming a 5-2 deficit and those four match points in the closing stages of the match to cross the finish line first and earn a huge reward for his dedicated tennis in the last couple of months, living the usual tantrums behind him and returning where he belongs.
It wasn't the match of the highest order, with 24 break points in total, but the crowd could enjoy in a very dramatic final set and those last few points of the tie break that decided the champion. The Aussie struggled on his second serve big time, winning just nine out of 31 points and facing 11 break points.
He fends off seven of those and grabbed 45% of the return points to create 13 opportunities in Fognini's games, scoring five breaks and keeping his focus when it mattered the most to win the title. Fognini had six break points in the opening two return games but he failed to convert any of those, getting broken in games two and six to hand the first set to his rival in under 30 minutes.
They traded breaks in games four and five in set number two and it was the Italian who had the edge in the rest of the set, breaking Tomic in game eight before saving two break points in the game that followed for a 6-3.
The deciding set saw four breaks of serve in the opening five games and they served well in the rest of the set to reach the tie break, in what has been the best part of the entire encounter. Fabio was 5-2 up in the breaker but it wasn't to be for him, wasting three match points at 6-3 and one more at 7-6 before Tomic won the next three points to steal the triumph and start a huge celebration. Final result:
• Jo-Wilfried Tsonga details how Fabio Fognini uses his antics to his advantage• Watch: Fabio Fognini gets brutally honest on if he ever cheated on exam• Bernard Tomic returns to the win column, clinches first title of the year • When Bernard Tomic and Dudi Sela completed a three-setter in 65 minutes• ATP Chengdu: Alexander Zverev wins season's second title• Italian tennis CEO Angelo Binaghi: "Fabio Fognini proved to be very intelligent"