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Donna Vekic won her first WTA title on Sunday beating Dominika Cibulkova in a third set tie-break to win the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpar
Donna Vekic won her first WTA title on Sunday, beating Dominika Cibulkova in the Malaysian Open final, just a month after losing to her in straight sets.
Vekic, 17, trains at the Virgin Active's Northwood Riverside Club and had previously lost to world number ten Cibulkova in the second round of the Indian Wells Masters in March.
There was no repeat of the straight sets defeat to Cibulkova in Kuala Lumpar as Vekic came from a set down to beat the 24-year-old in a third set tie-break 7-6.
Croatian-born Vekic is trained by David Felgate - a former coach of Tim Henman - who highlighted the transformation in fortunes since the March 8 meeting between the two.
"I'm more than delighted," admitted Felgate.
"She lost to her in straight sets to her last month in Indian Wells, so to come back and beat her like this [is very impressive]. She can go on to achieve anything she wants but she knows that this is only the beginning; the hard work continues now."
Felgate continued: "We didn't speak about it before. She knew what she would have to do to beat her and that was a good thing. She knews she would need to go and player her own game and focus and what she could do."
Slovakian Cibulkova took the first set 7-5, but Vekic took the second by the same scoreline to set up a tense decider.
Vekic was in a strong position to take victory in the third - 5-1 up at one stage - but experience of Cibulkova told and the Slovakian forced a tie-breaker at 7-6.
Felgate said he was pleased with "manner" in which the teenager had triumphed: "As a coach the manner in which she won - apart from the win itself - was the most pleasing aspect. If you can see the game developing as it did, for her to win like that, it will take her on [to the next level]. Obviously she was very tired after and she had a long, long way to go to get home."
World number 95 Vekic had lost her two previous WTA finals - the Aegon Classic in Birmingham last year and the Tashkent Open in Uzbekistan in 2012 - and Felgate admitted this was the Croatian's "toughest" test due to the calibre of her opposition.
Speaking to the WTA website after her win, Vekic also praised Cibulkova: "It was a very tough match. She played very well throughout.
"I was up 5-1 in the third set and she came back out playing insane - so I'm happy I was able to get through in the end."
She added: "I'm so happy - I don't know what to say."
Vekic's win at the Royal Selangor Golf Club means that she becomes the youngest Malaysian Open winner and the first under 18 to win a WTA title since Vania King triumphed in Bangkok in 2006 aged 17 years, eight months and 12 days - just under three months older than Vekic.
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