Rome - Maria Sharapova stormed to a 6-2, 6-4 win over Samantha Stosur in the Italian Open final Sunday for the biggest clay-court title of her career.
After a three-hour rain delay, the seventh-seeded Sharapova won the opening four games, then cruised from there to follow up her victory over top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-finals.
This tournament is a key warmup for the French Open, the clay-court Grand Slam that begins in one week, and Sharapova will now be among the favourites in Paris.
Sharapova is a three-time Grand Slam winner and Roland Garros remains the only major title she hasn't won. Stosur hadn't reached a final since losing to Francesca Schiavone at Roland Garros last year and the Australian is now 0-8 in her career against Sharapova.
A former No 1, Sharapova had been struggling to regain her best form ever since undergoing right shoulder surgery in October, 2008 - which caused her to miss 10 months of action.
The Russian won her last title in Strasbourg, France, a year ago.
With her fiancee and New Jersey Nets guard Sasha Vujacic watching from the stands, Sharapova didn't drop a set all week, and she required just 1 hour, 23 minutes to beat Stosur.