Cape Town - Nao Hibino failed to defend her Tashkent Open title after succumbing to a 6-2 2-6 6-3 defeat at the hands of Kristyna Pliskova in the final.
Japan's Hibino, ranked number 78 in the world, beat Donna Vekic 6-2 6-2 in last year's final, but came up short against Pliskova.
The 24-year-old Czech claimed the first set with relative ease thanks to two breaks, but Hibino found her groove in the second set, and fought back with impressive venom.
Trailing 2-1, fourth-seed Hibino won five consecutive games in a huge swing of momentum.
However, world number 100 Pliskova regained control in the decider, breaking for a 4-2 lead and winning the tie-break at 5-3 to claim her first maiden top-tier title on the WTA Tour.