Niculescu outlasts Puchkova in Brasil Open final

Romanian Monica Niculescu captured his first WTA singles title by grinding out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Russian Olga Puchkova in Saturday's final at the inaugural WTA Brasil Tennis Cup.

The 75th-ranked Niculescu prevailed in just under two hours in her first-ever meeting with Puchkova, who stunned former world No. 1 Venus Williams in the semifinals on Friday.

Niculescu was a runner-up in Luxembourg in both 2011 and last year.

The 109th-ranked Puchkova, like Niculescu, appeared in her third final. She finished as a runner-up on two occasions in 2006.