Steffi Graf of Germany came back from a 5-3 deficit in the deciding set to defeat Spain's Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (8-6), Monday in the final of the $500,000 Lufthansa Cup.
Graf secured her fifth victory in six years at the Berlin event to collect the $100,000 winner's check.The 21-year-old top seed had triumphed in Berlin from 1986-1989, but was defeated by Yugoslavia's Monica Seles in last year's final.
Sanchez Vicario received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 4,500 for her gallant effort.
"It was a fantastic final. I congratulate Steffi," said Sanchez Vicario.
"Arantxa played superbly," responded Graf.
It was Graf's third tournament victory of the year, following successes in San Antonio, Texas, and Hamburg, Germany.
After a disappointing 1990 - due in part to press speculation about an alleged affair involving her father and a model - Graf has regained the confidence that made her the world's top-ranked woman from Aug. 1987 to Feb. 1991. She now is No. 2, behind Seles.
"This victory was very important to me after several tight losses during the last 12 months," said Graf.
With Sanchez Vicario leading 5-3 and serving for the match, Graf broke service and held, eventually forcing a decisive tie-breaker.
After going ahead 5-2 in the tie-breaker, Graf commited her sixth double fault of the match to allow Sanchez Vicario to draw even at 5-5. Sanchez Vicario fought off the first match point, but Graf won on her second match point when the Spaniard, the French Open winner in 1989, netted a backhand.