Maria Sharapova beat Li Na in three sets in a rain-affected final of the Rome International tennis tournament today, claiming victory in a tie-break following a delay of over 2 1/2 hours. The men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was postponed until tomorrow.
Russia’s Sharapova, the defending champion, was tied at 6-6 with China’s Li before the break for rain. The 25-year-old took the tie-break 7-5 when play resumed.
Sharapova, who collects her 26th WTA Tour title, lost the opening set 6-4 and trailed 4-0 in the second before rallying to win eight straight games.
She led 4-1 in the third set before Li recovered and had to save a match point in the final game to stop the Chinese player from claiming the title.
Li’s defeat leaves her without a title since last year’s French Open. The year’s second Grand Slam, the only one to be played on clay, starts May 27 in Paris.
World No. 1 Djokovic of Serbia will play third-ranked Nadal of Spain in the men’s final tomorrow afternoon. Djokovic is the defending champion.