Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova warmed up in style for the French Open by cruising to her first title in a year with a 6-2, 6-4 win over an out-of-sorts Samantha Stosur at the Rome Open on Sunday.
After a rain-delayed start, the Russian appeared to be in a hurry to get off court again and won 14 of the first 15 points as she raced into a 4-0 lead, before clinching an easy first set.
The battling Australian had no answer to Sharapova’s range of shots in the second set and the Russian clinched her 23rd career title and her first in Rome with another devastating forehand winner.
Stosur, who had committed 14 unforced errors to Sharapova’s five in the first set, began the second set with two more wayward forehands as the seventh-seed broke yet again.
However, the runner-up at Roland Garros last year got lucky in the very next game to break back as her mishit forehand dropped on the baseline to give her a 2-1 lead.
Sharapova, who needs the French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, kept her focus to take the next three games against an opponent she had beaten in all seven of their previous meetings.
The Russian negated sixth seed Stosur’s wayward power game with some canny placements and finished off a long sixth game with two rasping forehands.
The Australian, who sat through the changeover with her head bowed low, finally managed to hold on to two consecutive service games, but she was powerless to stop Sharapova from lifting a second clay-court title in Europe.
“I was ready from the first point and wanted to be aggressive. I tried to take that start away from her,” Sharapova said.
“Moving wise, I feel better on clay. I feel better and better, and although I may not be the best slider or have the strongest legs, there’s more than that in tennis and that’s why I won,” she said.