Russia’s Daria Kasatkina fought back from a set and a break down in the second to win the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Kremlin Cup in Moscow today, holding off Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur to lift her first WTA trophy on home soil.
Last year’s runner-up completed the turnaround for a 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 win after two hours and five minutes in the final of the WTA Premier tournament at the Olympic Sports Complex.
Kasatkina, who has broken inside the WTA’s top 10 for the first time in her career, adds her name to an elite list of Russian players to have lifted the trophy.
She joins Anastasia Myskina, Anna Chakvetadze, Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
"It was a dream of mine since childhood to win the Kremlin Cup in front of my crowd," Kasatkina, the sixth seed, said.
"I’m so happy, I still can’t believe it.
"I have to go to the airport now, but I’m still happy.
"There were fans from Russia, from Tunisia, from everywhere - the atmosphere felt more like Fed Cup, but it was great.
"It was amazing because this is what sport is about, the passion."
The victory denies Jabeur a first WTA title for her country.
She had already become the first player from Tunisia to reach a WTA final.
The pair exchanged early breaks in the first set before Kasatkina fired a rocket cross-court forehand to take a 4-2 lead.
But with a foothold in the set, Jabeur didn’t let up for a moment, firing winners off both wings to reel off the last four games in a row and power through the opening set.
Jabeur’s relentless attack extended her lead to a double break at 4-1 in the second set before Kasatkina showed her experience to draw level at 4-4.
A pair of marathon breaks came back-to-back - needing 11 break points between them - and kept them even into a tie-breaker.
That was where Kasatkina finally pulled away, rattling off four consecutive points to send them into a deciding set.
The two players traded breaks at 2-0 in a hard-fought final set, with Kasatkina breaking first and Jabeur fighting her way back.
But as the contest ticked past the two-hour mark, Jabeur seemed to be struggling physically as Kasatkina scored the decisive break and served out the match to seal victory.
The win secures Kasatkina her second WTA title and first on hard courts.
She had two chances to claim one earlier this year, but came up short in finals in Dubai and Indian Wells against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina and Japan's Naomi Osaka respectively.
Her run to the final also earned her a trip to the WTA Finals in Singapore, where action is due to begin tomorrow and run through to October 28.
Kasatkina has overtaken Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka as the first alternate.