World number two Petra Kvitova signalled her intent on Friday to reach the top spot in the women's rankings in 2012, beating world number one Caroline Wozniacki at the Hopman Cup.
The most-anticipated match of the tournament lived up to expectations and it was the left-handed Czech Republic player that prevailed, 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-4, in two hours and 16 minutes.
Although no ranking points were on offer, the two 21-year-olds played as if there were, trading blows from the back of the court in a thrilling match that featured a number of momentum swings, and Kvitova's jubilation at victory told a tale.
Kvitova had been at pains to play down the significance of the match beforehand, but admitted it was a nice fillip ahead of the Australian Open, starting Monday week in Melbourne.
"It was a great match from both of us," she said.
"I am glad that I won because it was a small test of how we are prepared for the Aussie Open.
"Caroline played very well and it was a close match."
It was a match of contrasting styles, with the Czech hitting twice as many winners as her opponent, but Wozniacki, who played vastly better and with more venom than in her two previous singles outings this week, making very few errors.
In the end, the match swung on the sixth game in the deciding third set, when Wozniacki, who had conceded two early service breaks in the set, was up 0-40 on the Kvitova serve.
The Dane had four break points, but couldn't convert and Kvitova scrambled out of the predicament to lead 4-2 and she held the advantage to the end.
Kvitova brought up match point with a powerful forehand winner, but was denied her first match point when Wozniacki hit a backhand passing shot that collected the line.
The Czech then drew Wozniacki wide with her first serve, before following up with a forehand winner into the open court.
The result levelled the head-to-head between the pair at 3-3, with Kvitova having won their last two matches.
Kvitova trails Wozniacki, who has been the women's number one since late 2010, by just 115 ranking points.
Both players will play at the Sydney International next week to complete their Australian Open preparations, and Kvitova could claim the mantle of the best player in women's tennis as early as at the conclusion of that tournament.