Before this week Suárez Navarro came out winless in five WTA finals - Marbella in 2009, Marbella again in 2010, Oeiras in 2012 and Acapulco and Oeiras again in 2013. And though she was the No.1 seed this week, it was never a given she was the favorite for the title, not just because she lacked a WTA title, but because the No.7 seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former World No.2 with 13 WTA titles to her name - including two majors - was waiting in the final, and had beaten her three of four times.
The Turning Point
There were a lot of turning points in the final. After grinding out a grueling 45-minute first set, 6-4, Suárez Navarro twice went up a break early in the second set, first for 1-0 then for 2-1 - but Kuznetsova came alive after getting broken that second time, winning nine of the next 11 games to not only take the second set, 6-3, but to build a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead in the third set.
Serving at deuce in that 4-1 game, the match turned one more time, with Kuznetsova's game totally abandoning her and Suárez Navarro's lifting up - the Spaniard won five games in a row from there, and 18 of the next 24 points, to complete a marathon two-hour-and-10-minute 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 triumph.
By The Numbers
While the two were pretty even overall in the match - Suárez Navarro put together a -13 differential of winners to unforced errors, 16 to 29, while Kuznetsova was -12, 19 to 31 - in the most important stretch of the match, the last five games, Kuznetsova's game went awry. She made four unforced errors in the last game alone, including a forehand into the net on match point - unforced error No.31 of the day.
But the wait is finally over for Suárez Navarro, who finally lifted her first WTA title on her sixth try in a final, and who now has 26 WTA-level match wins on the season, more than anyone else on tour. The next-highest aren't far behind though - Agnieszka Radwanska and Dominika Cibulkova each have 24.
Suárez Navarro is also the third Spaniard to win their first WTA title in 2014, after Garbiñe Muguruza (in Hobart just before the Australian Open) and María-Teresa Torró-Flor (in Marrakech last week).
"I tried to fight, but unfortunately it didn't happen today, and I want to congratulate Carla on a great week," Kuznetsova said afterwards. "It's definitely an amazing feeling to win your first WTA title."
"I'm very happy I could finally win my first WTA title," Suárez Navarro said. "I was a little bit nervous today. It was a difficult match too - it was windy today and we were both making mistakes, and we know each other well, but the most important thing for me today was just to be solid all the time.
"On match point I was only thinking to put the ball in, and that's what I did, and I felt so good when I finally finished the match. The ceremony was very special for me. I really love this tournament."
"For me it's a very special moment of the season, because we don't have a lot of tournaments on clay," Suárez Navarro added. "Now there's Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros, which to me is the best tournament of the year, but it's still far - most important right now is the next tournament in Madrid."