NÜRNBERG, Germany - Sweden's Johanna Larsson is back in the winner's circle.
The World No.97 won her first WTA singles title in three years at the Nürnberger Versicherungscup on Saturday, edging American Alison Riske in straight sets, 7-6(4), 6-4.
The victory is Larsson's second title of her career, as she raised the trophy in her last appearance in a singles final on home soil in Båstad in 2015.
"I feel unbelievably happy. Before this week, I arrived here with not that much confidence," Larsson said after the match.
"Coming and standing with the trophy out there on Center Court is a great feeling. It makes that I can still do this and believe in myself, and especially before a Grand Slam, it's very important."
— WTA (@WTA) May 26, 2018
The 29-year-old had won back-to-back matches at WTA level just twice all season before arriving in Nürnberg, and broke a three-match losing streak at the event dating back to 2013 when Irina-Camelia Begu retired in the second set of their first round encounter.
In a week that also saw her come from a set down in both the quarterfinals and semifinals, Larsson's championship victory was all but a given as she battled from behind in both sets.
The Swede rallied from an early break down and a 3-1 deficit in the first-set tiebreak by winning the last four points, and also won the last five games of the match to deny Riske what would've been her second career singles title.
"Both of us were fighting hard today. The rain and all the waiting was quite rough for everyone - for players, organization and the crowd as well," Larsson said. "In the end, I think I had just a little bit more energy to spare, and that was the difference.
"I lost a little bit in my head in the second set. I was still thinking that it was one break. When I held for 4-2, I could see some signs that she was a little bit tired, and that gave me a lot of energy to fight back."
— WTA (@WTA) May 26, 2018
Larsson's victory will propel her back to the Swedish No.1 spot in the rankings at World No.59, which she briefly surrendered in this week's list to Rebecca Peterson.
The former World No.45 will be a looming presence on the terre battue of Paris, and will face the returning Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round of next week's French Open.
Potential matches against No.29 seed and home favorite Kristina Mladenovic and World No.1 Simona Halep could await her her in the subsequent two rounds should she want to match her career-best showing in Paris: a third round from 2014.
The Swede nearly doubled up headed into the second Grand Slam of the season, as she and Kirsten Flipkens came within one set of winning the doubles title, but fell to Demi Schuurs and Katarina Srebotnik, 3-6, 6-3, 10-7.
In the doubles final, Larsson was playing her third match of the day, as she and Flipkens won their rain-delayed semifinal after her singles triumph.