WTA Italian Open: Serena Williams beats Victoria Azarenka 6-1 6-3 to win title in Rome
Serena Williams clinched her fourth consecutive title as she beat Victoria Azarenka 6-1 6-3 in the Italian Open final.
Last Updated: 19/05/13 11:35pm
In the process the World No 1 extended her winning streak to 24 matches - the last time she tasted defeat coming against Azarenka in the final in Doha back in February.
There never appeared to be any real prospect of the Belarussian emerging triumphant in the Italian capital from the moment Williams reeled off the opening three games of the match, claiming two breaks of serve on the way.
Azarenka pulled one back to get on the board as she punished a poor attempted drop-shot from her opponent, but a series of crunching returns from Williams in the next ensured another break.
The American's string of winners continued leading Azarenka to slam her racket to the floor in frustration when she let a rare opportunity of her own pass.
The third seed did stave off two set points on her own serve to get to deuce in the seventh game, but a fortunate net cord brought up another for Williams and this time she took it as her opponent sent a backhand long.
The second set proved a more evenly-contested affair, Azarenka showing commendable courage and nerve to fend off break points in her opening two service games to stay level.
Williams did break through in the sixth game, though, Azarenka unable to return a thumping backhand as her rival moved into a 4-2 lead.
But the Belarussian gave herself renewed hope as she broke straight back, only to then surrender another break with a double-fault to leave Williams serving for the match at 5-3.
She duly did so in convincing fashion, clinching her first Rome title since 2002 with a stunning backhand winner down the line.