Dubai, February 23: Belinda Bencic survived a Petra Kvitova comeback to seal her biggest win in more than three years with a fine 6-3 1-6 6-2 victory in the Dubai Tennis Championships final.
The former world number seven has seen her career stagnate in the past couple of years due to a succession of injuries, but she defeated Aryna Sabalenka, Simona Halep and double-defending champion Elina Svitolina en route to the final.
And Bencic claimed another notable scalp in the form of 2013 champion and Australian Open finalist Kvitova, who will be disappointed she failed to complete a turnaround after dominating the second set.
Success in this Premier 5-level tournament represents Bencic's most significant title win since her triumph at the 2015 Rogers Cup and the Swiss will hope it can act as a springboard back towards the top 10.
Bencic broke at the first time of asking when Kvitova could only put a thunderous return long and two more break-point chances went begging in game three.
Kvitova was putting plenty of depth on her strokes in a bid to stay in the set, but Bencic's expert returning and clean strikes yielded a double break as her opponent netted when defending a ferocious backhand.
A slight scare followed when Kvitova broke back, yet it proved a brief respite as a double-fault offered up a first set point that Bencic clinically dispatched.
Perhaps roused by frustration, Kvitova's level rose dramatically and a combination of pinpoint ball striking and sloppy Bencic errors saw the Czech race into a 3-0 double-break lead in set two.
It was an advantage Bencic could not claw back and a couple of wicked returns saw Kvitova level the match at one set apiece.
However, the momentum once again was with Bencic when Kvitova double-faulted a couple of times en route to being broken in game three of the decider.
Another break provided Bencic the chance to serve for the match and, after saving two break points, Kvitova went long on her opponent's second match point to end a hard-fought contest.
Bencic consequently becomes the first female Swiss winner in Dubai since Martina Hingis' triumph at the inaugural hosting in 2001.