(CNN) -- Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain sealed her third singles title with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 victory over Serbia's Jelena Jankovic in the final of the Italian Open in Rome on Saturday.
The 27-year-old beat former champion and seven seed Jankovic despite letting slip a 5-2 lead in the first set, Martinez Sanchez eventually fighting back to win via a tie-break.
The second set also proved a test of character for the unseeded Spaniard, after a match point against the title winner of 2007 and 2008 went begging with the set at 5-3.
But timely net play and Martinez Sanchez's unorthodox style insured she claimed her biggest trophy to date with victory over the former world number one.
"I'm so happy to have won in Rome," Martinez Sanchez told reporters at a post-match press conference. "It hasn't sunk in. There are so many emotions."
In winning, Martinez Sanchez became the first Spaniard to clinch the women's title since four-time winner Conchita Martinez triumphed in 1996.
The win in Rome could also propel the Murcia-born player into the top 20 of the singles rankings come Monday.
After the game Jankovic paid tribute to her opponent by telling reporters: "It was really difficult. She plays very differently to most girls, lots of drop shots, serve and volley and she's left-handed.
"She mixes up her game, she doesn't have one weapon. She's tricky with all these things she does."