Sharapova lifts trophy in rainy Rome
May 20, 2012 -- Updated 1912 GMT (0312 HKT)
Maria Sharapova won the 26th title of her career after beating Li Na in three sets
- Maria Sharapova beats Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) to win Italian Open
- Deciding tiebreak delayed by 2 hours because of rain in Rome
- Men's final between Nadal and Djokovic postponed until Monday
- Sharapova heads to French Open with two clay-court titles this year
(CNN) -- Maria Sharapova beat Li Na in three sets to defend her Italian Open title in Rome on Sunday in a bizarre match played in sometimes heavy rain and amid the distraction of football fans gathering nearby.
Sharapova was 6-4 4-0 down but fought back to take the match into a deciding tiebreak -- after saving a match point at 6-5 in the third set.
By the time the tiebreak came around, the rain was falling heavily, making conditions unplayable, and it even started to rain again when the players returned two hours later to complete the match.
Sharapova eventually won it 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) and the two players burst out laughing when they shook hands at the net.
"It was a crazy match," Sharapova said. "Either one of us could have won it. There really is no loser."
The men's final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was postponed until Monday because of the weather -- prompting some fans to throw objects onto the court in disgust.
Nearby, Napoli and Juventus fans were gathering for the Italian Cup final at the nearby Stadio Olimpico, and the final was punctuated by the sound of fireworks going off and police helicopters flying overhead.
It was like playing a football match in the rain
"The match was a joke, it was like playing a football match in the rain," said Li, who came close to her first title since winning the French Open almost a year ago.
"Even when we were sent off court, you had to still concentrate for every second, it was tiring for both players.
"You could not relax. It was tense. When we came back out, she was the tougher player. But I take some positives away. It's getting close to Roland Garros and I think I hit the ball well. I also moved her around the court well."
Sharapova heads to Roland Garros with a second clay-court title of the year under her belt. Not traditionally a threat on the slow surface, the world No. 2 has only lost once on clay in 2012 -- to Serena Williams.
"This is a great win for me going into Roland Garros," Sharapova said. "It will be nice to have a week off now, after playing three tournaments in the last four weeks. I'll have to time to recover, mentally and physically."
Sharapova can complete a career Grand Slam if she wins in Paris.
Part of complete coverage on
June 7, 2013 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
For some of the biggest names in tennis, the French Open's red clay courts mean only heartbreak and shattered dreams.
June 6, 2013 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
She drank alcohol on court, smoked "furiously" and horrified the establishment with her daring outfits and "unladylike" playing style.
May 28, 2013 -- Updated 1445 GMT (2245 HKT)
CNN's Open Court talks to the past five French Open women's champions ahead of the start of the tennis season's second grand slam tournament.
June 3, 2013 -- Updated 1337 GMT (2137 HKT)
CNN's Christina MacFarlane shows us how the French Open maintains its special surface.
June 2, 2013 -- Updated 1343 GMT (2143 HKT)
CNN's Christina MacFarlane shows us what it takes to be an umpire at Roland Garros.
May 27, 2013 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
CNN visits the Paris jewelry store that crafts the replica trophies taken home by winners French Open winners.
May 21, 2013 -- Updated 0939 GMT (1739 HKT)
Nicknamed the "kissing disease," mononucleosis or glandular fever is a viral illness that is affecting tennis stars.
May 1, 2013 -- Updated 1129 GMT (1929 HKT)
She towers above him, but she can't do without him. Meet the man who has made Maria Sharapova the world's wealthiest female athlete.
April 22, 2013 -- Updated 1511 GMT (2311 HKT)
When Maria Sharapova underwent shoulder surgery five years ago, many thought her tennis career wouldn't last.
April 18, 2013 -- Updated 1258 GMT (2058 HKT)
Nine-year-old Rebecca Suarez stunned onlookers when she was pulled out of the crowd to team up with Del Potro against Nadal.
April 18, 2013 -- Updated 2115 GMT (0515 HKT)
Janko Tipsarevic is of the belief that his fellow professionals aren't doping -- or at least not on a widespread basis.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1429 GMT (2229 HKT)
Agnieszka and Urszula Radwanska are hoping to take their relationship to a new level by emulating tennis' most famous sisters.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
America's 18-time grand slam champion Chris Evert talks to Open Court about her career and training the next generation of players.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
CNN's Don Riddell speaks with 11-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal during one of his comeback tournaments in Mexico.
March 21, 2013 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
Germany's veteran star Tommy Haas opens up to Pat Cash about being away from family on tour, and his many injuries.
March 11, 2013 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
You'd think John Isner and Nicolas Mahut would be sick of the sight of each other, but their friendship has grown since that epic match.
March 4, 2013 -- Updated 1608 GMT (0008 HKT)
Almost a decade after Andy Roddick's sole U.S. Open victory, America is still waiting for its next male grand slam winner. What's gone wrong?
Today's five most popular stories