SINGAPORE - Dominika Cibulkova wrote the final chapter of a fairytale season by upsetting World No.1 Angelique Kerber to win the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
One week on from a painful opening night defeat to Kerber, Cibulkova gained revenge in spectacular fashion, powering to a 6-3, 6-4 victory in an hour and 16 minutes.
"I have no words, coming here for the first time, the biggest tournament of my life. I still don't know how I won, I put the ball over the net and it went in; it's the happiest moment of my life," Cibulkova said in her on-court interview.
Cibulkova dominated from the outset, bossing the baseline exchanges to romp through the first set. There was no let-up in the second, as the Slovak continued to attack anything remotely short with gusto.
At 3-3, the pressure paid off, the German firing wide to slip a break behind. For all the spectacular winners from the back of the court, arguably the most impressive aspect of the World No.8's performance was her serve; a remarkable 83% first-serve percentage neutralized Kerber's famed return game.
The only wobble came as she closed in on the biggest title of her career. Three match points came and went before Lady Luck intervened, the ball clipping the tape and dropping dead onto Kerber's side.
"It wasn't easy to go on the court after two losses but I was mentally very strong and I knew I played well in the first two matches, I was just a little bit unlucky. Then at the end I was lucky!"
The masterclass - which featured 28 winners and only 14 unforced errors - was a fitting end to a dramatic debut at the WTA Finals.
After falling in three sets to Kerber in her opening round-robin match, she was roundly beaten by Madison Keys to leave her hopes hanging by a thread. However, victory over Simona Halep in her third outing saw her sneak into the semifinals, where she then staged a brilliant comeback against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Cibulkova is the second player in a row after Agnieszka Radwanska to win the WTA Finals after only one victory in the three round-robin games. She is also the first debutante to lift the title at the season-ending showpiece since Petra Kvitova in 2011, and the achievement will see her climb to a career-high No.5 when the new rankings are released on Monday.