Caroline Wozniacki warmed up for a shot at Wimbledon by claiming her maiden grass court crown after overcoming France’s Virginie Razzano on her third match point.
And the teenager thought she had sealed the title with an ace, only to be disappointed by a late call that her serve was out.
Nevertheless, the world #9 needed just four more points to collect the Aegon International silverware with a 101-minute 7-6(5) 7-5 success.
Wozniacki, the Wimbledon Junior champion just two years ago, added Eastbourne to her inaugural WTA title – the 2008 Nordic Light Open in Stockholm – by twice bouncing back from a break down in the second set.
The #6 seed broke Razzano early in the opening set only for the French ace’s dogged determination to force the lottery of a tie-break, which at least warmed up the chilly Centre Court crowd’s hands from clapping at the high quality rallies.
The freshness of youth against the tenacity of her 25-year-old opponent tipped the balance strongly in favour of Wozniacki, who steamed 6-1 ahead before sealing the set 7-5 in 49 minutes.
And she continued her momentum by breaking the experienced Razzano to begin the second set on a high note.
But the Dane immediately dropped her service game, unable to deal with a combination of the swirling wind and Razzano’s powerful drives as she approached the net to pile on the pressure.
Wozniacki, the only seed to survive as far as the semi-final stage, displayed her well-tuned defensive weapons along with her trademark two-handed backhand down-the-line winners to efficiently dismiss Razzano.
With the match becoming an intriguing battle of who could wrestle control at the net, it was the world #25 who allowed a golden opportunity to slip away.
She had Wozniacki on the rack but fluffed her chance at break point in the 10th game, allowing the teenager to escape by prodding a backhand effort that ended up in the net.
This error appeared to be playing on Razzano’s mind, as she looked a shadow of her earlier self on her service game to slip up – with yet another backhand error – and gift Wozniacki the chance to take the tournament title.
Serving for the crown, Wozniacki’s ruthless streak applied the killer touch and thought that she had wrapped up victory by thumping down an ace only for the ball to be called out remarkably late. This call silenced the fans to leave the result on a knife-edge as the Centre Court got eerily quiet, the only noise being the swirling wind.
And it appeared that it could be a case of deja vu for Razzano, who saved three match points in her quarter-final tussle with Poland’s defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska.
She staved off a second match point to make Wozniacki work hard to claim the triumph, but volleyed the next match point into the net.
Delighted Wozniacki, in her fifth appearance at Devonshire Park having starting off in the Junior tournament, said: “I love coming back on grass every year, and even though it’s only a short period of time that we play on grass each year I feel like I’m adapting really fast. But as it’s my first title on grass that means a lot to me.”
The 18-year-old, whose parents hail from Poland, added: “They have the best ice cream shop right around the corner here in Eastbourne and every year we go there. If I win a match I eat one, but if I don’t I feel I don’t deserve one.”
Having bagged her second title of the season, and settled for three runner-up berths this term, rising star Wozniacki appears to be on her way to scooping many more crowns – and with this her well-deserved ice cream rewards.