Maria Sharapova celebrates with the trophy after defeating Na Li in the women's final.
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ROME (AP) -- Maria Sharapova retained the Italian Open title on Sunday with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) victory over Li Na in a match interrupted twice by rain.
Li appeared to be on course for the victory as she stormed to a 6-4, 4-0 lead, but 24 unforced errors from the French Open champion allowed Sharapova to take the next six games and the set.
Sharapova then seemed headed for the victory when it began to drizzle. The Russian took a 4-1 lead in the third, but Li fought back to win four successive games to take a 5-4 lead.
Both held their serves the rest of the way and the match went into a tiebreak.
After waiting in the changing rooms for two hours because of the rain, the decider was over in five minutes, with Sharapova getting the victory in 2 hours, 52 minutes.
Sharapova was ahead first in the match as Li hit the ball in the net to hand her the first break. However, Li broke straight back and did so again in the 11th game to take the set.
Li was in control as she broke to love and raced into a 4-0 lead in the second set, at one stage taking 15 points out of 17 as Sharapova struggled to deal with the ferocity of her strokes.
Li then struggled as Sharapova won the next eight games.
Li rallied when she got to 40-0 in the ninth game of the second set, but Sharapova broke following a couple of unforced errors and two double faults and went on to successfully serve for the set.
Li managed to come back and even the final set as the rain came. The match was delayed briefly at 5-5 and the players waited courtside for it to ease up slightly before play resumed.
Sharapova smashed the ball into the net and handed her opponent a championship point. But Sharapova rallied with a powerful forehand into the corner.
With the rain continuing to come down, the players were asked if they wanted to continue. Both said they did, but were eventually forced off court before the tiebreak with the rain turning the clay to mud.
The men's final between top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was moved to Monday because of the rain.