The Italian second seed had not dropped a set all week on the clay in Marbella but Suarez Navarro made good use of her booming backhand to level the match at one set all.

"I just got the better of her at the end," Pennetta, who was treated for cramp in the third set, told a news conference.

"I started well then got a bit tired and Carla started playing more aggressively."

(Writing by Iain Rogers in Madrid, editing by John Mehaffey and Pritha Sarkar)