Simona Halep fights back to defeat Jelena Jankovic at Indian Wells
Simona Halep secured the biggest title of her career as she battled back from the brink to beat Jelena Jankovic to the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
The Romanian looked down and out on more than one occasion as she struggled with a foot problem and Jankovic gave her an almighty let-off when she passed up the chance to serve for a second Indian Wells title.
But in the end the battling qualities of Halep, coupled with the instability of Jankovic who virtually went to pieces as the match went on, got the third seed over the line 2-6 7-5 6-4.
"I want to congratulate Jelena you were amazing," a gracious Halep said afterwards.
"At my age you won this tournament so well done for a great week, a great job and an amazing final.
"I am really happy I could win today. This tournament has been amazing, I thank all the Romanian people who come to support me everywhere. You make me want to fight until the end.
"I am really excited to win this, my biggest title, I will never forget it."
Jankovic said: "Simona was unbelievable.
"We were running like two dogs and in the end I couldn't keep up any more. She's the younger one."
It was 2010 Indian Wells champion Jankovic who began more aggressively, breaking in the opening game.
The number three seed broke back immediately but two more breaks by Jankovic saw her wrap up the first set. The second set was a topsy-turvy affair with the players exchanging six breaks of serve before Halep held and broke Jankovic to level the match.
Jankovic got the first break of the deciding set but it was soon 2-2.
There was no surprise at all that Jankovic responded by winning on Halep's serve, and even fewer raised eyebrows as another break followed, before Halep held it together to go 4-3 ahead.
She then broke to go 5-3 up and on the brink of victory but in keeping with the match she coughed up her serve with a wild backhand before taking the title, fittingly, with a break as she came in short on a forehand and made no mistake.