Pattaya, Thailand – Maria Kirilenko defeated Germany's Sabine Lisicki 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) to claim the Pattaya Open title in a tension-filled final on Sunday.
The Russian No 2 seed took the title in two hours 37 minutes at the end of a fluctuating final set during which both players served for victory.
It is the sixth title of her career and her first since 2008.
Since her last tournament victory she has lost four finals, including the 2012 Pattaya final to Daniela Hantuchova.
“I had a birthday before the tournament started and had a cake in my room with some candles, and I made a wish,” said Kirilenko, who turned 26 on January 25.
“The wish was to win this tournament and the wish came true.”
It was a high quality final in which both players served well, hit deep groundstrokes, were not afraid to come to the net and moved their opponent all around the court.
Lisicki also used the dropshot to good effect.
After an early exchange of breaks fifth-seeded Lisicki sneaked the opening set by breaking at 6-5 when Kirilenko put a forehand wide, and she had an opportunity to take control when she held three break points for a 2-0 lead in the second.
Instead, it was Kirilenko who dominated much of the next hour, sweeping the next nine games to win the second set and build a 3-0 lead in the third.
Lisicki held her next service game with three aces as she staged a late revival, and she then saved two match points on her own serve when down 5-2.
Kirilenko then faltered, failing to serve out the match at 5-3 and allowing Lisicki to level at 5-5.
The next two games went against serve, as Lisicki broke to lead 6-5 but then dropped her own serve at love as she served for the match and Kirilenko then dominated the tiebreak.
“I was a little disappointed in the third set,” said Kirilenko.
“I was leading and everything was good and I made a return that was just out. If it was in I could win it 6-2, but after that miss she was serving so well afterwards.
“Then somehow I returned her serves (at 6-5) and it was a tiebreak and then I started to feel I can win it.” – Sapa-AFP