Kuala Lumpur, 7 March 2011 | AFP

Australia’s Jelena Dokic came from behind to down Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in a thrilling three-set battle to capture the Malaysian Open.

Dokic, a former Wimbledon semifinalist, defeated world No.35 Safarova 2-6 7-6(9) 6-4 to take her first WTA title in eight years.

Despite being ranked a lowly 91st, the 27-year-old Australian was in tremendous form, hitting a series of accurate baseline shots to overcome the left-handed Czech player in two hours and 40 minutes.

There were long and exciting rallies on court, with Safarova fighting back with strong returns and powerful aces, but a calm Dokic managed to unnerve the 24-year-old fifth seed into making unforced errors.

“I played for one point at a time. She [Safarova] made some unforced mistakes and I really exploited on it,” the Australian told reporters.

“I am happy to be in the WTA final. It is a fantastic to win the title and the players I beat.”

Dokic was ranked as high as No.4 in the world back in 2002, but dropped out of the top 100 in 2006 as she struggled to cope with family-related problems.

The Kuala Lumpur tournament has proved a milestone for Dokic, who started her run to the title by beating world No.5 Francesca Schiavone of Italy in the first round.

It was her first win over a top-five player since 2003, when she defeated then No.1 Kim Clijsters in a tournament in Zurich.

Dokic’s career highlights include reaching the semifinals at Wimbledon and the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and the quarterfinals of the French Open (2002) and Australian Open (2009).

Before competing in Malaysia, she took part in the Qatar Open, where she was bundled out by compatriot Jarmila Groth in the second round.

Meanwhile, Russian Dinara Safina and Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva won the Malaysian Open doubles title when they beat Thailand’s Noppawan Lertcheewakarn and Australia’s Jessica Moore.

But the former world number 1 Safina and her partner Voskoboeva needed a super tiebreaker to win the final 7-5 2-6 [10-5].