Paul Haarhuis lifted the £58,000 winner-takes-all Masters Tennis prize at London's Royal Albert Hall yesterday. The Dutch doubles specialist - a 40-1 pre-tournament outsider - beat the defending champion Jim Courier 6-3, 7-6 in the final.
Courier, the 35-year-old former world No 1, was always chasing the game as he struggled in vain to break the serve of 39-year-old Haarhuis, who only retired from the main ATP Tour last year and made a brief comeback this year to play doubles for the Netherlands in the Davis Cup.
Haarhuis revealed he had also secured an additional bonus by staking "big bucks" on himself at 40-1.
Haarhuis was always in the driving seat after breaking the American's serve to go 4-3 ahead in the opening set. A second successive break enabled him to clinch the set 6-3. Courier battled gamely, staving off another service break at 2-3, love-40 by winning five points in a row to level at 3-3.
Despite two double-faults he got out of trouble with an ace to level at 4-4 and, with both holding their serves the set went to 6-6 and a tie-break. But Haarhuis was not to be denied and he secured the two mini-breaks to take the tie break 7-2.
Courier admitted: "The better man won. Paul played beautifully today, he didn't give me any unforced errors." Haarhuis, winner of the doubles titles at all four Grand Slam tournaments during his career said: "I was just hoping to stay with him, but I was winning my points so I was feeling good. Winning this tournament is a big thrill."