Ons Jabeur became the first player representing an African country to land a WTA 1000 title as she fended off Jessica Pegula in the Madrid Open final.
The Tunisian beat her American opponent 7-5 0-6 6-2, regrouping well after a major dip in the second set to scoop the biggest title of her career.
The history-making victory means Jabeur will jump from 10th to seventh in the WTA rankings on Monday, matching a career high, and she earns €1,041,570 in prize money.
After losing to Belinda Bencic in the Charleston Open final last month, Jabeur’s run on the Spanish clay shows she is becoming increasingly resilient, and comes as a timely boost ahead of the French Open getting under way in two weeks’ time.
“We’ve lost a lot of finals, but today I’m happy I pulled out the win,” Jabeur said at the end of the match, addressing her support team.
“It was very tough, especially last time in Charleston, so thank you guys for always believing in me and pushing me forward.”
Jabeur came from 4-1 behind to take the opener, and she now holds a 17-0 match record when winning first sets this year.
Pegula broke in the fourth game, having fended off three break points in the opening game of the contest. Jabeur hit back and soon had the match back on serve, before saving a set point with a thumping backhand.
The 28-year-old Pegula, daughter of Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula, has carved out a successful career at the top level in tennis, reaching back-to-back Australian Open quarter-finals this season and last.
She was in trouble when she lost her serve in the 11th game though, and Jabeur capitalised to snatch the opener.
Pegula made a flying start to the second set, establishing a swift double break, and a flat Jabeur found no way back. A drop shot into the net on set point summed up her drastic drop in level.
Jabeur stopped the rot by breaking serve at the start of the decider. Pegula immediately got back on level terms, but another break for Jabeur saw her pull away, on her way to victory in an hour and 54 minutes, a tour-leading 12th win of the season on clay.
The impressive Jabeur is also the first Arab winner of a tournament at this lofty level.