Rome - Russia's Maria Sharapova has warmed up for the defence of her French
Open title by securing her third Italian Open crown with a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1
win over Spain's Carla Suarez on Sunday.
Suarez, bidding for only
the second title of her career but first from the Masters 1000 series,
made a stunning start at the Foro Italico where the players faced
The Spanish 10th seed broke the world
number three midway through the opening set and had Sharapova on the
ropes in a tight second before Sharapova found the breakthrough.
broke the Spaniard in the eighth game of the second set for a 5-3 lead
and after going on to hand her opponent three break points in the next
game she recovered to level the match.
The diminutive Suarez
struggled with Sharapova's movement and variety of shots, in particular
the Russian's two-handed backhand, which she used to devastating effect
However Sharapova will be looking to improve several
aspects of her game -- notably in terms of unforced errors -- if she is
to go all the way in Paris in the coming weeks.
Serena Williams, the winner in Rome the past two years, withdrew before
the third round earlier this week citing an elbow injury and will be
desperate to avenge her first round defeat in Paris last year.
who secured her final spot with victory over Victoria Azarenka, handed
Suarez a break point in the opening game of the third set and despite
twice saving the game Suarez moved ahead when Sharapova hit an easy
return just wide.
That setback only served to spur the Russian,
who broke back immediately, sealing the game with a two-handed backhand
return that Suarez did not even bother to try and reach.
moved 3-1 ahead when Suarez, having first saved break point, conceded
the game with a weak return that hit the net -- effectively ending her
The Russian held her serve for a 4-1 lead and, with
Suarez's confidence deserting her, earned a double break point before
taking her lead to 5-1, holding serve on her final game to seal the