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Determination pays off for 20-year-old Brit at Futures of Mansfield tennis

Down a set and a break, top seed Liam Broady never gave up Sunday during the singles final of the Futures of Mansfield at Walnut Creek Country Club.

His determination paid off, but only after fighting off four match points and winning a second-set tiebreaker on the way to a 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-0 victory over former Texas Longhorns star Dimitar Kutrovsky of Bulgaria.

The title was the fourth of the year for the 20-year-old Brit, who has climbed to No. 266 in the ATP rankings and hopes to climb high enough to become eligible for automatic entry into the Australian Open qualifying tournament in January.

However, things didn’t start well for Broady, who won the first game, then lost six straight as he struggled to solve Kutrovsky’s unusual two-handed forehand and backhand style.

“He came out playing really well, actually,” Broady said of Kutrovsky. “And I think that [two-handed style] kept me from starting the way I usually do. He was working me wide and punching it back and not giving me much time off the ground. That sort of threw off my rhythm.”

After dropping the first set almost before breaking a sweat, Broady began to hold his own in the second. Still, Kutrovsky broke serve for a 5-3 lead, and the Longhorns’ three-time All-American and all-time winningest player seemed headed to a comfortable straight-sets victory.

But Broady fought off the first match point on Kutrovsky’s serve, then broke back to get back on serve. In a marathon 10th game of the set, Broady fought off three match points on his serve and won the game on the sixth deuce to even the set at 5-5.

After both players held serve to force a second-set tiebreaker, Broady won six of the first seven points and wrapped up the set when Kutrovsky pulled a forehand return wide on the ninth point.

“I knew I just needed to hang in there in the second set, and go 2-all, 3-all,” Broady said. “I knew I’d get my chance eventually. I went 5-3 down, but he lost a few match points and he got a bit nervous, I think. In the third set, his shoulders dropped and I played great.”

The day was doubly special for Broady, who came away with a Mansfield doubles title a few hours later. And he did it in much the same fashion, coming from behind with former UCLA standout Dennis Novikov to beat 2010 Mansfield doubles champion Kutrovsky and Henrique Cunha of Brazil 4-6, 6-3 (10-7).

Not only did Broady and Novikov come back from a set down in the final, but they also trailed 6-2 in the third-set tiebreaker before reeling off seven consecutive points. Two points later, Broady was celebrating for a second time.