SERENA Williams won her third Italian Open title, crushing local favourite Sara Errani 6-3 6-0 in Rome yesterday.
The world No 1 looked on top form against the 10th-seeded Errani, who was cheered on by a passionate home crowd but suffered a thigh injury towards the end of the first set and never recovered.
All the action was in the first set, which lasted longer than the 46-minute hammering Williams dished out to the Italian in the semi-finals of the French Open last year, when Errani won only one game.
The 27-year-old Italian had to leave the court after losing her serve in the eighth game of the first set to get attention for her injury. She was less mobile after that, and the American rattled off seven games in a row to finish the match in one hour and 11 minutes, leaving Errani tearful in defeat.
“I’m sorry for Sara because she didn’t deserve it to end like this, but I’m very happy for the win,” said Williams. Yesterday’s triumph was her 60th WTA title and she dropped only one set on her way to victory, in Saturday’s powerful semi-final display against Ana Ivanovic.
Errani, who had been bidding to become the first Italian since Raffaella Reggi in 1985 to win the title, told the crowd: “I’m sorry, you’ve been brilliant all week. It was amazing for me to get to the final and play my best tennis thanks to you and my team, who have always been by my side.”
Meanwhile, Heather Watson will return to the world’s top 100 today after winning the Sparta Prague Open.
The Guernsey player defeated Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-6 (7/5), 6-0 in the final to win her second title of the year on the ITF circuit, the level below the WTA tour.
Watson overcame a high-class field, beating four top-100 players.
The title and ranking boost is the perfect birthday present for Watson, who turns 22 today.
Her attempts to recover the ground she lost last year as she battled glandular fever have been hampered by a shoulder injury, but this week’s performances will send Watson into the French Open in good spirits.
She will have to go through qualifying in Paris but, along with Johanna Konta, has already booked her place in the Wimbledon main draw.
Konta, who made the semi-finals at a tournament in France this week, is on the verge of breaking into the top 100 for the first time.