World number one Angelique Kerber survived a second-set wobble to beat WTA Finals debutant Dominika Cibulkova in Singapore.
Kerber's form since replacing Serena Williams at the top of the women's game has been patchy, but she turned on the style on Sunday to secure a 7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-3 victory.
The two-time grand slam champion started superbly but needed a tie-break to move ahead in the match, Cibulkova's tiring run-up to the tournament seemingly working in Kerber's favour.
However, the Slovak dug deep in the second as she raced into a 4-0 lead, her timing noticeably improving and the array of shots keeping Kerber guessing.
First blood in the decider went the way of Cibulkova - who only sealed her Finals place last week with victory at the Generali Ladies Linz - but her newfound confidence could not hold Kerber up for long.
The pair exchanged blows from the baseline before the top seed joined Simona Halep with an early victory in the Red Group, converting her first match point with a crisp forehand.
"Domi is a tough opponent, she played very well in the last three months, she won the last tournament and I was ready for that," Kerber said on-court.
"I knew that I had to play my best tennis and I really enjoyed the match today and am really happy I won in the end."
Kerber  bt Cibulkova  7-6 (7-5) 2-6 6-3
Kerber - 34/27
Cibulkova - 40/33
Kerber - 4
Cibulkova - 0
BREAK POINTS WON
Kerber - 4/6
Cibulkova - 5/11
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Kerber - 64
Cibulkova - 60
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Kerber - 58/53
Cibulkova - 65/42
Kerber - 93
Cibulkova - 90