Martinez Sanchez served out the match at the second time of asking
Spain's unseeded Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez stunned former champion Jelena Jankovic to win the biggest title of her career at the Italian Open in Rome.
Martinez Sanchez, ranked 26th, wrapped up her third career title with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 victory at the Foro Italico.
Jankovic beat Venus and Serena Williams in successive days to reach the final but could not overcome the Spaniard's game of volleying and drop shots.
"I'm so happy to have won in Rome," said Martinez Sanchez.
"It hasn't sunk in. There are so many emotions."
She plays very differently to most girls, hitting a lot of drop shots, she serve-volleys and she's left-handed. It's a little bit tricky
And she explained the roots of the attacking style that makes her an almost unique proposition in the women's game.
"I have a different game, it's not typical," said Martinez Sanchez, whose previous WTA titles came last year in Bogota and Bastad.
"That's the idea of my game, do lots of different things. Maybe it's because I used to watch Martina Navratilova on TV when I was seven, eight. When I was little I always shoved the ball and went to the net.
"The key is to fight, fight, fight till the end. You should never put limits on yourself. I think I could do well on grass with my serve and volley game and being left-handed."
She made much the better start to Saturday's final, racing into a 5-2 lead before seventh seed Jankovic hit back with four successive games to serve for the set.
The Serb could not close it out, however, failing to convert a set point and it came down to a closely fought tie-break that Martinez Sanchez edged when she converted her second set point of the breaker.
Martinez Sanchez twice went a break up in the second set and served for the title at 5-4, only for Jankovic to break back and level the scores.
But it did not signal a comeback from the former world number one as she failed to consolidate the break, dropping serve again to allow Martinez Sanchez a second chance at sealing the title.
This time the Spaniard held her nerve to wrap up the win in two hours 20 minutes.
"I want to congratulate Maria, she played a great match and she really killed me with all those drop shots," said Jankovic.
"It was pretty tough. She plays very differently to most girls, hitting a lot of drop shots, she serve-volleys and she's left-handed. It's a little bit tricky."
But Jankovic took heart from her back-to-back wins over the Williams sisters and another appearance in the Rome final.
"To beat them takes a lot of energy out of you," the Serb added. "They're the best athletes and the best players and to beat them is huge.
"Not many players have done that and I'm one of the few with a positive record against them which is very good for me.
"But the final is a good result here and I have to keep my head up high. I wanted to win my third title here but it's still a good result."