Croatia's Donna Vekic became the first player under 18 to win a WTA title for eight years when she stunned top seed Dominika Cibulkova 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) in the Malaysian Open final.
The 17-year-old shrugged off another rain-hit day to beat the world number 10 Slovakian and win her first title after two unsuccessful final appearances in Tashkent in 2012 and Birmingham in 2013.
Vekic, the youngest player in the main draw, had a healthy 5-1 lead in the third set and should have served out the match.
However, Australian Open runner-up Cibulkova clawed her way back into the match to 5-5 in an absorbing final at the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur.
“It was a tough match, she played very well. I was 5-1 up in the third set but she played insanely well to get back. The fans here really helped, so this win is for them as well,” said Vekic.
Vekic's win was also her first victory over a top 10 player.
At 17 years, 10 months and 23 days, she is the first player under 18 to win a WTA title since Vania King won Bangkok in 2006 aged 17 years, 8 months and 12 days.
Cibulkova, who was stretched to three sets in both the semis and quarterfinals, conceded an early break in the first set but took advantage of a break in play due to rain to recover.
When play resumed, Vekic made errors, allowing Cibulkova to take the opener after breaking her 95th-ranked opponent's serve in the 12th game.
But the young seventh-seed was unperturbed and saw out two nerve-wracking sets to come back and deny Cibulkova's bid for a fifth career WTA title. - AFP