Stan Wawrinka missed his chance on Sunday for a first ATP title in six years as he lost 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4 to injured Alexi Popyrin in the final of the Umag event.

The Australian winner became the first from his country to win a clay trophy on the Tour since Lleyton Hewitt in 2009 in Houston.

Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam winner, claimed his last trophy at Geneva in 2017 before he underwent what turned into a pair of foot surgeries as well as dealing with a knee problem.

The 38-year-old ranked 72nd, was unable to deliver the final blow to his opponent, who needed a serious mid-match taping on his right thigh but carried on to his improbable victory in two and a half hours.

Popyrin said that he never thought about quitting but still found it hard to believe what he had accomplished.

“It was such a battle, I don’t know how I won,” the No. 90 said. “My quad (muscle) was done, it was cramping, I think it’s pulled.

“I dug deep – I don’t know how. I told the physio (during on-court treatment) there was no point in quitting.

“I would have a better chance of winning if I stayed out there, so that’s what I did.”

Wawrinka claimed the 53-minute opening set in a tiebreaker but was unable to close out his 17th title as Popyrin somehow bounced back.

“It was an honour being on the court with him,” the winner said. “I grew up watching Roger and Rafa and Stan. 

“To beat him in a final is an unbelievable feeling. 

Wawrinka won the Umag title in Croatia in 2006.