The 29-year-old Dusan Lajovic had cracked the top-100 for the first time five and a half years ago but couldn't make the next step and settle into the top-50. After a couple of reliable but not spectacular seasons, Lajovic has improved his game a lot in the last 12 months or so which carried him towards the first Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo in April, finding himself in the top-30 for the first time.
The Belgrade native lost that one to Fabio Fognini, having to wait for three more months to lift the first ATP trophy that came on Sunday night in Umag. Lajovic took down the Hungarian qualifier Attila Balazs 7-5, 7-5 in an hour and 50 minutes, overcoming a deficit in the opener and sealing the deal in straight sets to earn the first title on the main level.
It was a chance for Balazs to get his hands on the first trophy as well, with the 30-year-old ranked outside the top-200 competing in the first ATP final and making a debut in the top-150 with these points on Monday! Despite giving his everything like in the entire week, Attila had to settle for the second prize, squandering the advantage in the first set and losing the edge in the closing stages of set number two to hand the title to Dusan who won 14 points more in the end.
The Serb played against two break points and couldn't save any of them, creating nine opportunities on the return and seizing four to cross the finish line and avoid possible tie break or the deciding set against an inspired rival who had great support from the crowd during the entire week.
Balazs fended off two break points in the fourth game to avoid an early setback, breaking Lajovic at 15 at 3-3 to create the lead. From 5-3 down, Dusan broke back in the tenth game with a great forehand crosscourt that forced an error from the Hungarian, securing another break in game 12 for a 7-5 and a massive boost ahead of set number two.
There, the Serb moved 4-1 up with a triumphant return game at 2-1, only to lose the advantage three games later when Balazs pulled the break back to increase the drama. Serving to stay in the match in the 12th game, Attila netted an easy forehand to hand the break and the title to Lajovic who fell to the ground in disbelief after one of the most significant moments of his career.