France's Caroline Garcia won the biggest title of her career on Monday as she defeated Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(4), 6-4 to win the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas.
Garcia relied on a superb service game as the 29-year-old from Lyon became only the second French player to win the WTA title after Amelie Maursemo in 2005.
Both players' thunderous serves were firing early and neither faced a break point in the first set of the final of the season-ending tournament, which features the WTA Tour's top eight players.
"Today was such an intense final," Garcia told Tennis Channel while donning a cowboy hat.
"I'm very proud of how I was able to keep my mind calm and really focus on one point at a time, one game at a time. A crazy final, a lot of intensity on every point. Just really proud of the work we did throughout the year. It was a great match. I'm really happy to win my biggest title."
Garcia seized the initiative in the first set tie-break after both women had held to 6-6.
Remarkably, neither player conceded a break point during a hard-fought first set. But the question of who would blink first was answered in the breaker as Sabalenka's composure deserted her.
A wayward Sabalenka backhand return plopped into the net to give Garcia a 4-2 lead in the tie-break.
On the next point, Sabalenka double-faulted to hand the Frenchwoman a 5-2 lead. Garcia brought up four set points with an ace. Although Sabalenka recovered to win the next two points, she double-faulted again to hand Garcia the set.
A rattled Sabalenka was soon in trouble in the second set, suffering a break on the first game after Garcia drilled a winner up the line.
That break proved decisive as Garcia never looked like surrendering the initiative, holding for the remainder of the set before serving for the match at 5-4.
She earned her first match point when Sabalenka sent a backhand return wide for a 40-30 lead. Although Sabalenka saved that match point with a backhand down the line, Garcia regained match point with a booming serve before converting on the next point.
The 29-year-old was ranked outside the top 70 in mid-June but has since won four titles, made the semi-finals of the US Open and will now rise to a career-high number four.
Meanwhile, Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens beat defending champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-2, 4-6, 11-9 to win the doubles title in the WTA Finals on Monday night.
Kudermetova and Mertens won six consecutive points after falling behind 7-2 in the champions tiebreaker before closing things out on their second match point.
Krejcikova and Siniakova were trying to finish off a dominant season that included titles at all three of the Grand Slam events in which they competed. It was just the fourth loss of the season for the Czech duo, which was trying to become the seventh doubles team to defend a WTA Finals championship.