Paula Badosa survived a stiff challenge from Victoria Azarenka to produce a gutsy 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-6(2) win in an epic Indian Wells championship match on Sunday.
Azarenka was two points from winning the tournament for a third time and serving at 5-4 in the decider when her game began to unravel behind a series of uncharacteristic errors.
Badosa took advantage of the shift in momentum and held her nerve in the final tiebreaker, firing a crosscourt forehand winner on championship point and falling to the court in joy at the end of the more than three-hour battle.
The 23-year-old Badosa praised WTA Tour veteran and two-time major champion Azarenka, who she said she had admired since she was a teenager.
"I remember saying to my coach that I hope one day I can play like her," Badosa said after receiving the championship trophy.
"Thank you for inspiring me so much. Athletes like you and women like you, I wouldn't be here without you. Really."
Badosa also thanked her family in Spain for their support as she overcame injuries and mental health struggles in recent years to win the biggest title of her career.
"I know they are watching. I want to say thanks for helping me every day and getting me through the bad moment. This is a dream come true," she said.
With the win, Badosa becomes the first Spanish woman to win the tournament in the California desert and will move to a career high world number 13 on Monday.
The tournament, which is sometimes called the fifth major, was not held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was pushed back from March to October this year due to the global health crisis.
"Very well deserved match. I had a lot of fun playing out here," Azarenka said.
The Belarusian also praised the crowd, which backed her at key moments in the match.
"Thanks to all you guys for your support. It is really special to play in front of the crowd after such a long break.
"Thank you for all your energy this week."
British breakthrough as Norrie wins Indian Wells title
Cameron Norrie battled back to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the Indian Wells final on Sunday, becoming the first British man to win the Masters 1000 tournament.
It appeared an upset was in the works when the hard-hitting Basilashvili quickly took the first set but Norrie regrouped in the second, breaking the Georgian at love to force a decider.
In the third set, the left-handed Norrie broke early and saved three break points to take a 3-0 lead as unforced errors began to pile up for Basilashvili under the lights in the Southern California desert.
Norrie sealed the biggest win of his career when Basilashvili sent a forehand long on championship point.
"What can I say? Obviously, I'm so happy. It's my biggest title so I can't really describe it right now," said Norrie, who was playing in his sixth final of his breakout year.
Britain's Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski have all played in the men's finals at Indian Wells but finished runner-up.
The 26-year-old Norrie, born in South Africa to a Scottish father and Welsh mother, won his first ATP singles title at Mexico's Los Cabos Open in July.
Norrie has shown steady improvement all year and expertly executed his strategy of forcing Basilashvili into long rallies in the final, giving himself the opportunity to dictate points from the baseline.
He congratulated Basilashvili on his outstanding tournament, where the 29-year-old stunned world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals and American Taylor Fritz in the semis.
"I'm sorry it went my way. You deserved it just as much as I did," Norrie said.
"Well done to you and your team on a great week."
Basilashvili said he was disappointed in the outcome but looked forward to returning to the event, which is sometimes referred to as the fifth major.
The tournament was not held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was pushed from March to October this year because of the global health crisis.
It will return to its regular March date on the sports calendar next year.
"I was hoping to get a title, but it's okay," Basilashvili said.
"I will move on and I hope that I'll come back here in March and play better tennis."
Norrie's breakthrough win comes on the heels of British teenager Emma Raducanu's stunning triumph at the U.S. Open last month.
Earlier in the day, the tournament crowned its first female champion from Spain when Paula Badosa came out on the winning side of a three-set thriller against Victoria Azarenka to claim the biggest title of her career.