WUHAN, China - In a week which began with eight of the world's Top 10 vying for the trophy, Caroline Garcia will leave the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open as champion after edging Ashleigh Barty, 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 in an all-unseeded final.
The Wuhan win is not only Garcia's biggest title yet, but also of any French player since Marion Bartoli won the Wimbledon trophy at the All-England Club in 2013.
"Right now, I just feel very happy and proud of my fight of today, proud of all the work we did," Garcia said after the match. "Sometimes, it was difficult for me after some good matches to keep it going. That's what I did great today.
As it happened: Garcia bags biggest career title in Wuhan
"It's difficult when you just win after two hours 45 minutes to say exactly how I feel, but to win a title, it's always something very special. Premier 5, it's even better. For me, a title is a title."
The duo split tiebreak sets in over two hours, with each woman seeing a lead slip in the set she lost.
The Aussie twice came from a break down in the opener to steal a one-set lead, as the Frenchwoman twice served for the opener but faltered in the tiebreak, before Garcia flipped the script in the second set.
"I lost the first set, was very hard, because it was a battle. I was like, You can't let it go, you have to fight till the end," Garcia said of her turnaround.
"That's why you train hard, to play these kind of moments. Even if you lost, doesn't matter, you have to fight until the end and find the solution. You don't find the solution, fine, you have to keep working."
Six straight breaks of serve closed out proceedings to break set two to another tiebreak, as Barty twice served for the Premier 5 crown, only to see Garcia battle back and level each time.
"I think my serve let me down when I was serving for the match. My first serve deserted me a little bit. I put myself in a position where I was only a few points away from a title," said Barty in defeat. "When I was serving out the match, it's just another service game for me. I try and do the right things and the best things I can. I just wasn't able to execute tonight.
"It's disappointing not to come away with it in the end, but sometimes the cookie crumbles that way. It was a hell of a match. Caro is a great friend of mine. I wouldn't want anybody on the other side of the net."
Added Garcia: "It's a pleasure to fight against her on court. I'm very happy she came back to tennis. The tour definitely needs someone as talented as her. What she been through is very difficult, but I'm glad she decide to came back to tennis.
We'll have so many more battles in the future. It will be such a fight, but I will be always pleased to play against her.
An early mini-break set the tone for Garcia's effort to level the match, and though Barty got the tiebreak back on serve, Garcia claimed the last two points on the World No.37's delivery to send the match into a third set.
Using her newfound momentum to begin the deciding set, the World No.20 twice broke a deflated Barty and served out the match at her first opportunity to seal victory in two hours, 45 minutes.
Garcia served at a 71% clip for the match to go along with eight aces and a total of 32 winners, and broke serve in eight of her 16 chances.
"When you win a title, doesn't matter big, small tournaments, it's always some of the same emotions," Garcia said. "Doesn't matter if it's a small one or big ones. It's definitely great.
"Maybe a few months ago, maybe even a few weeks ago, I wouldn't find the energy to come back and the focus to stay in the match."