Clay-court specialist Rafael Nadal has won his seventh Italian Open title, crushing Roger Federer at the Rome Masters. Serena Williams belted her way to the women's title.
Sunday's match was the 30th meeting between the two tennis greats, and Nadal controlled the final from the beginning, taking the first set in just 23 minutes. Federer fought back in the second set, but couldn't match his opponent on the clay and went down 6-1, 6-3.
Rome's Foro Italico played host to a capacity 10,500 fans who watched as Nadal took just over one hour to seal his 41st career title on the red dirt. The Spaniard’s domination of his Swiss rival showed that he'll be the player to beat when the French Open starts next weekend.
Federer remains without a trophy this season, with Rome his only final. He was gracious in defeat, complimenting his rival.
"Congratulations to Rafa for backing (his title in) Madrid last week and winning a seventh here," Federer said.
"For me it was a good week, even if it was not my day."
Nadal returned to professional tennis in February after knee injuries kept him off the court for seven months; and has won six of the eight events he has entered since coming back.
Veteran Wiliams at top of her game
In the women's final, Serena Williams won her fourth consecutive title of the year, completely outclassing third-seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka. Azarenka cracked under heavy pressure from Williams, several times slamming her racket to the ground on her way to a 6-1, 6-3 loss.
The top-ranked American will enter the French Open at Roland Garros with a career-best 24-match winning run behind her.
Williams, a 31-year-old veteran, appears to be back at the top of her game after missing 11 months in 2010 and 2011 with a right foot injury and a pulmonary embolism.
Rome was Azarenka's first final since beating Williams for the title in February at Doha, Qatar. The Belorussian, who also took out the Australian Open in January, has since been dogged by right ankle and left foot injuries.
ch/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)