BRIGHTON, England -- Steffi Graf, two points from defeat, rallied past Jana Novotna 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) Sunday to win the $350,000 Midland Bank Classic for the sixth time.
The Wimbledon champion trailed 5-4 in the final set and was down 30-0 with Novotna serving before summoning her best tennis of the match.
Graf tied the set at 5-5 and bolted to a 5-0 lead in the tie-breaker to take control.
It was Graf's 30th successive victory at Brighton and her sixth title in seven years. This was the third time thismonth Graf beat Novotna in three sets, the other matches coming in Leipzig, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland. This latest victory was worth $70,000.
'I have to say sorry to Jana,' Graf said, 'because every time I come out and win when she is ahead.'
Added Novotna: 'You give Steffi a little and she takes it all. That's why she is No. 2 in the world.'
Novotna, seeded fifth and ranked No. 10 in the world, put her serve- and-volley tactics to good use in winning the first set. Graf saved two set points before the Czechoslovakian clinched the set with an ace.
Novotna appeared headed for a straight-set coup when she broke Graf to lead 3-1 in the second set, but the German star broke Novotna twice in winning five of six games to even the score.
Novotna's big chance came after the two exchanged breaks to start the last set. She led 30-0 but the defending champion clicked into gear and reeled off the next four points. Graf completed the 2-hour, 32-minute victory on her second match point when Novotna pushed a crosscourt forehand wide.