|Maria Sharapova of Russia holds her trophy after defeating Samantha Stosur of Australia in their final tennis match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament May 15, 2011. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Maria Sharapova waited out the rain before running over Samantha Stosur to capture the title at the Italian Open.
After a rain delay of about three hours, Sharapova won the first four games of Sunday's final en route to a 6-2, 6-4 victory for her first title of 2011 and the 23rd of her career.
The seventh-seeded Russian knocked off world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals on Saturday, avenging a loss to the Dane at the Indian Wells semis earlier this year. Sunday marked Sharapova's second final of 2011, as she lost to Victoria Azarenka in the title match at Miami in April.
Sharapova notched a 6-4, 6-1 win over Stosur in the fourth round in Miami on her way to the final and on Sunday again had little trouble with the sixth- seeded Australian.
Stosur came out flat after the lengthy delay, as Sharapova won 14 of the first 15 points and broke serve twice to open a 4-0 lead. After the Russian easily finished off the first set, the two then traded breaks to start the second. Sharapova, though, broke serve again for a 3-2 lead and never let Stosur back into the match.
"I'm so happy to be the champion," Sharapova said on court after the match. "It means so much to me to add this title to the ones I already have. Rome is such a special place and I've dreamed of holding up this trophy. There are a lot of tournaments coming up, and this is a great start to everything."
Sharapova improved to 8-0 all-time against Stosur, who was appearing in her first final of 2011 and fell to 2-8 in WTA title matches. Sharapova improved to 23-12 in finals and will likely be among the favorites when the French Open kicks off next Sunday.
The Roland Garros crown is the lone Grand Slam title to elude Sharapova, who pocketed a first prize of $360,000 for Sunday's championship.