'S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands - For the second straight match, she was down but never out - and Aleksandra Krunic now has her first WTA title to show for it.
The No.7 seed, who saved a match point in her semifinal victory over top seed CoCo Vandeweghe, came from a set and a break down twice in the second set to defeat Kirsten Flipens 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-1 to win her first singles trophy at the Libéma Open.
Krunic broke the Belgian as she served for the match at 7-6(0), 5-4 in the second set, and won nine of the last 10 games of the encounter overall to become the first Serbian to win a WTA singles title in three years - since Jelena Jankovic won two in 2015.
The defeat proved emotional for the 32-year-old Belgian, who was forced to retire from the doubles final on Saturday after just six games with muscle cramping in her leg, but gave her best efforts over the course of two hours and nine minutes in the singles final.
"I don't know how you pulled this off, mate, but the fact that you didn't show how much pain you were in today, makes me respect you more," Krunic said on-court after the match.
"I think we're both champions, and I'm happy that I was able to stay [in the match]. I was very nervous and it was tough for me to play, but I'm happy that I hung in there."
Despite serving for the opener, Krunic found herself behind after nearly an hour of play after being handed a tiebreak bagel, and also trailed 7-6(0), 2-0 before getting the match back on serve for the first time.
Overall, the Serb hit 31 winners to 36 unforced errors of the course of the match, needing to be pinpoint on her passing shots as both players found their way to net often over three sets.
Krunic won 27 of her 37 forays to net, while Flipkens found her way there over four dozen times, winning 31 of the 50 points played.
Ultimately, the World No.55 wore Flipkens down on serve over the second and third sets. Despite being broken twice in the opener, Flipkens won 66% of the points played behind her serve en route to a dominante tiebreak, but saved just two of seven break points she faced in sets two and three.
The World No.60's points won on serve also dipped as Krunic worked her way to victory, as she won just 46% of the points behind her delivery in the second set, and just five points on serve overall in the third.
Krunic is the second first-time title-winner on the WTA so far this season, after Naomi Osaka won the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.