Rome final master classes from Nadal and Serena

Story highlights

  • Rafael Nadal wins Rome Masters title
  • Thrashes arch-rival Roger Federer in straight sets
  • 30th meeting of the two greats -- 20 in finals
  • Serena Williams beats Victoria Azarenka in straight sets in women's final
Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams underlined their status as overwhelming favorites for the French Open by breezing through their respective title matches in Rome Sunday.
Nadal crushed long-time rival Roger Federer 6-1 6-3 in a one-sided final at the Foro Italico.
Earlier, Williams blasted 41 winners as she beat Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka by the same score.
It was her 24th straight win and she is 16-0 on clay this season with three tournament wins.
Nadal was playing his eighth straight final since returning from a seven-month injury layoff in February and has been on an upward curve with each successive week.
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The pair were meeting for the 30th time and the 20th in a final, but Nadal dominated from the start, breaking service three times.
The second set was closer but the 26-year-old Spaniard was never seriously tested as sealed his 24th Masters crown and sixth title of the season.
"If you'd told me that four or five months ago I would have said you are crazy," fifth-seeded Nadal told AFP after his win.
He now leads Federer 20-10 in head to head clashes with 13 of those wins coming on his favored clay surface.
It was Nadal's seventh title triumph in the Italian capital but for Swiss ace Federer it was a sobering experience.
"Rafa has much more topspin than all the guys I played this week, so the change was quite a big one," he said.
"I tried to play offensively, but unfortunately I didn't have the best day. It didn't go the way I was hoping it to go."
Williams, who lost to Azarenka at the Doha tournament this year, never looked in serious danger of a repeat as she swept through the opener for the loss of a single game.
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She had a brief moment of concern in the second when her Belarus opponent broke back to trail 3-4, but then lost her own service in the next game.
No.1 Williams served out the match to love with back to back aces to complete victory in one hour 33 minutes.
She then proved a winner with the crowd by giving her victory speech in Italian.
For No.3 Azarenka, there is the consolation of a solid week after two months out with an ankle problem.
We had a lot of tight games and the match was closer than the score, but Serena played a very good match and was better in the important moments," Azarenka told the WTA Tour official website.
"After the trophy ceremony we were just talking about the match and wishing each other luck for the French Open, and that we'll see each other in Paris and hopefully see each other in another final."
The second grand slam of the season at Roland Garros starts on Monday week.