Svetlana Kuznetsova clawed her way back against Slovakia slugger Daniela Hantuchova to snatch the Hastings Direct International Championships in tight final against 2-6 7-6(2) 6-4.
The Russian teenager was overwhelmed in the opening set by the very popular Hantuchova, and left the vocal Centre Court split on who to support in this fascinating contest.
Long-legged Hantuchova was edging closer to victory and twice was two points from winning when serving for the title at 6-5 in the second set.
But the powerful Kuznetsova held her nerve to force a tie-break and easily won it as Hantuchova was snatching at shots, seemingly distracted by fluffing her chances to have secured the title.
The final set was a tense affair with the Russian 18-year-old having the bottle for a battle. Hantuchova volleyed wide to be broken for a 5-4 deficit and Kuznetsova saved three break points in the 10th game to capture the Hastings Direct crown.
Kuznetsova had finished runner-up in all three finals this year coming into Eastbourne, and breathed a huge sign of relief following her third career tournament success.
Russians seem to have a monopoly going into Wimbledon with Kuznetsova’s compatriots Anastasia Myskina and rising star Maria Sharapova winning the French Open and last week’s grass court tournament in Birmingham respectively.
Kuznetsova, a Wimbledon quarter-finalist last year, explained: “It was a very close final and a game of nerves.
“I just can’t get into the match at the start, and Daniela was playing so well in the first set. But finally I managed to put my first serve in and I did well.”
Hantuchova admitted: “This week’s been a turning point. I’ve always believed in myself, even in the difficult times.
“I got some wins for confidence so I cannot ask for a better Wimbledon preparation.”