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Serena thrashes Azarenka to win Rome title
By Justin Davis
11:48 AEST Mon May 20 2013

World No.1 Serena Williams swept Belarusian Victoria Azarenka aside 6-1 6-3 to win her second Rome Open title on Sunday a week before a fresh tilt at the French Open.

Williams broke Azarenka's serve three times in a one-sided first set and despite a tighter second set the American prevailed to stretch her career-best winning streak to 24 matches.

It was Williams's 51st career title and took her victory tally over Azarenka, who beat the American earlier this season in the final of the Doha hardcourt event, to 12-2 in their series.

Azarenka had swept Sara Errani aside in the semi-final on Saturday with a powerful display of tennis which left the Italian, who only made the last four after Russian second seed Maria Sharapova pulled out, struggling to mount any kind of challenge.

However the tables were promptly turned on the third-seeded Belarusian, who found herself on the end of a Williams masterclass that has installed her as the favourite for next week's French Open at Roland Garros.

Williams, however, said the match was closer than the score suggested.

"It was very close, the first three games were over 20-25 minutes or so, so it wasn't really easy out there. Nothing is really easy," said the American.

"I just took the opportunities when I had them. I know she (Azarenka) did as well, but I came up with the good shots sometimes."

Williams started in stunning fashion, breaking Azarenka's serve in the first game and going on to repeat that twice more on her way to a crushing 6-1 score.

Azarenka upped her game in the second but despite showing some signs of resistance early on, Williams's far more powerful serve and return left the Belarusian frustrated.

Azarenka did earn herself a lifeline when she broke Williams in the seventh game after the American sent a backhand just outside the line.

But the top seed rattled off three consecutive games, including a break in the eighth game, before finishing off the job with a backhand winner down the line following two aces.

Azarenka agreed the match had been closer than the score suggested but admitted Williams had made the difference in the key moments.

"She played a very good match but I don't think the score tells the true story of the game," she said.

"She definitely showed some more incredible tennis today... she's been playing her best tennis for the past year and a half or so.

"But today she played much better in the key moments of the match."

It is Williams's second title at Rome, having first won the event in 2002.