Mona Barthel of Germany scored the most impressive victory to date in her promising young career with a straight-sets win over Italy's Sara Errani at the GDF Suez Open in Paris.
The 7-5, 7-6 (4) win, Barthel's first at the Premier level, will likely vault the 22-year old German into the 28<sup>th spot on the WTA rankings when they're released next week.
"I was a little bit nervous - it was my first final in such a big tournament and she was making it so difficult for me in the end," said Barthel, who is currently ranked number 45 in the world. "But I just tried to keep stepping in and going for my shots, and I had to keep telling myself I was still in a position to win the match despite all of those things."
Conceding some four years and nearly 40 world ranking places to the veteran Errani, who was the tournament's top seed, Barthel managed to maintain her composure in the second set as each player struggled to hold serve amid some high-quality rallies and exceptional tennis skills.
Barthel took the first set 7-5 despite an impressive display of guile and tactics from the at-times overpowered Errani, who kept herself in the match with a collection of slices, lobs and off-speed ground stokes that forced the much taller German off the baseline and out of her comfort zone.
The willowy Barthel, however, managed to hold her serve at 5-5 in the first set - with the help of an over-rule from the chair umpire- and consolidated that lead by breaking Errani's serve to take the opener.
Barthel had better success coming to the net in the second set and built and early break into a 5-3 lead as Errani allowed the powerful young German to dominate her with strong, penetrating groundstrokes.
However, Errani returned to her earlier strategy of moving Barthel off of the baseline and drew the match level at 5-5 in the second.
Barthel held serve to go ahead 6-5 and then had two match points to break the Italian and win her the biggest title of her career.
It turned out to be a bit trickier than that: Errani forced a second set tie break that was eventually won by the German.
Barthel hit an astonishing 53 winners over the course of the one hour and fifty-six minute contest, nearly four times as many as her opponent. However, her erratic play also conceded 50 unforced errors to only 18 by the steadier Errani.
In the end, however, it was the German who walked about with just over €94,000 in prize money, 470 WTA ranking points and the attention of the game's top players - who may have seen a new obstacle in their path to the year's three remaining Grand Slam finals.