ROME: Maria Sharapova won her second straight Rome title on Sunday, defeating China’s Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), in a match full of momentum shifts, a lengthy rain delay, and noisy distractions from football fans.
A frustrating day at the sodden Foro Italico ended in anger as spectators tossed plastic water bottles onto the court after the high-profile men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was postponed until Monday.
The weather was mainly responsible and the decision was only made after heated discussions between the tournament and the ATP, some conducted on the court after the women’s event ended. But another reason for postponing the men’s final was due to worries over security, with thousands of football fans in the vicinity of the Foro Italico.
Officials and police were wary of tennis fans mixing with rival football supporters heading to Sunday night’s Italian Cup final between Juventus and Napoli at the Olympic Stadium, just a few hundred metres away.
World number two Sharapova claimed her 26th career trophy, but it was a struggle for the Russian, who found herself 6-4, 4-0 down before the players were forced off by rain for over two hours just as the final set tie-break was about to commence.
“It was a crazy match,” said Sharapova. “Either one of us could have won it. It was really difficult with so many swings. It was tough having to wait two hours. It’s difficult to have a loser and a winner, but I’m happy. It’s great to beat someone with the level she played last year.”