18 May 2015

Sharapova wins 3rd Italian title

12:11 pm on 18 May 2015

Russia's Maria Sharapova has warmed up for the defence of her French Open title by securing a third Italian Open crown with a three set win over Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro.

Maria Sharapova and the Italian Open trophy, 2015.

Maria Sharapova and the Italian Open trophy, 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Suarez, bidding for only the second title of her career made a stunning start at the Foro Italico where the players faced sweltering conditions.

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.

Sharapova 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 Navarro struggled with Sharapova's movement and variety of shots, in particular the Russian's two-handed backhand, which she used to devastating effect in the third set to win 4-6 7-5 6-1.

Her American rival 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.