Sharapova defends Italian Open title

May 20, 2012 at 2:41 PM

ROME, May 20 (UPI) -- Maria Sharapova defended her Italian Open crown Sunday, rallying for a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) victory over China's Li Na in a rain-delayed finale.

The second-ranked Russian claimed her second title of the year and 26th of her career in 42 finals appearances.

She found herself in trouble in the first set after falling to 0-4 against Na, but then turned things around, winning the next six games to force a decisive set.

Li, the reigning French Open champ, won four straight games for a 5-4 edge and went on to force a third-set tiebreak, which was delayed by two hours due to rain.

After the delay, Sharapova and Li were tied at 5-5 when Sharapova won the Rome title on her first match point.

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