ROME (AFP) –
Heavy rain halted Sunday’s Rome International women’s final between French Open champion Li Na and second seed Maria Sharapova with the match delicately poised at 6-4, 4-6, 6-6.
With the courts covered, the outlook for finishing the knife-edge women’s contest was uncertain while starting the men’s final remained open to question.
Complicating the scenario is the cordoning off of the entire Olympic zone by police prior to the evening Italian Cup final between arch-rivals Juventus and Napoli.
Already during the final, hovering helicopters, fireworks and chanting fans outside the fenced-off tennis area made for distractions.
Sharapova looked flat in the first set, losing an early break and the set.
With Li leading a set and 4-0, the momentum suddenly changed as Sharapova woke up to reel off eight consecutive games, winning the second set to level and going 2-0 in the second as Li’s famed problems with finishing off wins surfaced again.
But Sharapova suddenly went off the boil, reaching 4-1 but then dropping two serves as Li made a recovery.
As steady rain fell, the determined pair played on, with a brief stoppage at the two-and-a-half-hour mark while players sat in their courtside chairs.
Once the contest resumed, neither seemed inclined to close it out, with Sharapova saving a match point in the 12th game from a forehand winner.
As the tiebreak arrived so did more rain, which forced players off court and the covers on.