Los Angeles - Mihaela Buzarnescu's long road to a WTA Tour title ended in San Jose, California, on Sunday as the Romanian powered past Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-0 in the final of the US Open hardcourt tune-up.
For 30-year-old Buzarnescu, ranked 24th in the world and seeded fifth, it was a reward for perseverance.
Once the top junior in Europe, she endured two knee surgeries and saw her ranking tumble to 891st in the world.
During her extensive convalescence, during which she wondered if her left knee would ever mend, Buzarnescu received her Ph.D in sports science.
But her tennis dream remained and she has enjoyed a breakthrough 2018, her first title coming in an elite Premier level event after she was disappointed in finals at Hobart and Prague earlier this year.
"It means that no matter all that's passing through your life - injuries and people not believing in you and not thinking that you can ever be able to play again and reach a high level - if you believe in yourself and don't give up you can make it," Buzarnescu said.
Greece's Sakkari, ranked 49th in the world, made Buzarnescu's task easier with 34 unforced errors.
The Romanian broke twice in taking a 5-0 lead in the first set before Sakkari offered any resistance, fending off a couple of match points to hold serve.
She had three break chances in the next game before Buzarnescu held to close out the set, rolling through the second to victory.
"She played a great match, great tournament," Sakkari said, adding to Buzarnescu herself: "You've come a long way. I still can remember when we were playing Futures three or four years ago in Italy. Congrats, you really deserve to be here."
Results from WTA San Jose tournament on Sunday (x denotes seed):
Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROM x5) Maria Sakkari (GRE) 6-1, 6-0