Serena Williams crushes Sara Errani to lift Rome Masters title
Rome: World number one Serena Williams warmed up for the defence of her French Open crown by cruising to her second straight Italian Open title on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Sara Errani of Italy.
Errani had been looking to become the first Italian winner of the women's event in 29 years.
But with six previous defeats to her American rival, her bid was always going to be difficult and was hampered after she picked up a thigh injury at the end of the first set.
"It's a shame she got injured, but I thought she was playing really well before that," said Williams who now has 60 career titles.
"I think she definitely improved since last year but I think I could have played a little bit better. I was a little slow and nervous at the start, I wasn't hitting my shots as well as I should have been."
A tearful Errani apologised to her home fans for her display.
"I'm sorry. You have been wonderful all week, and I only continued playing because of you."
From the outset, however, Williams never looked in danger of facing an upset as her Italian opponent struggled with the sheer pace and power of the American's game.
Having benefited from huge crowd support during a 6-4, 6-4 semi-final win over Serbian sixth seed Jelena Jankovic on Saturday, this time the calls of support for Errani appeared to fall on deaf ears.
Williams broke in the second game of the first set and although the 10th seed came back to break in the seventh, she failed to hold in the next, allowing the American to serve out for the set.
Errani appeared to have injured her leg when she failed to go for a Williams return which allowed the defending French Open champion to break for a 5-3 lead.
Shortly after, the Italian called for the physio and had strapping applied to the top of her thigh.
However it did little to reignite her bid to become the first Italian woman since Raffaella Reggi in 1985 win the Rome title.
Williams continued her domination in a completely one-sided second set to claim a deserved straight sets win in 1hr 12min.
It was all too much for Errani who broke down in tears at courtside.
Williams, who faced little resistance from semi-finalist opponent Ana Ivanovic or Chinese qualifier Zhang Shuai in the quarters, expects to be given a tougher test at the French Open which starts on May 25.
But she will head to Paris looking to match her victories there to her record in Rome, where she has won in 2002, 2013 and now 2014.
"This year I hope to win at least one Grand Slam, it'll be nice but I don't want to think too far ahead," added Williams.
"I just think one week at a time. Next week is a Grand Slam week and obviously I want to do well but there are lots of people who want to do the same, so I'll just go there and do the best that I can."