WTA Final - as it happened
Sharapova beats Li to title
1904: So congratulations to Maria Sharapova. She will receive her trophy and it has been a week where she has shown signs of her Grand Slam form of old. Li Na will simply be kicking herself though. Thanks very much for joining me this week on our live blogs from the women's championship.
1901: Sharapova is the champion! She wins the tiebreak 7-5, as Li goes into the tramlines by an inch. A dramatic match, interrupted by the rain, but Maria wins for the second year running. Disappointment for Li Na who really should have won when leading by a set and 4-0. Sharapova is all smiles as she shakes hands with her gallant opponent.
1853: We will have play. Li to serve first in the ‘breaker.
1849: Players back on court but there is more rain in the air. I’m not sure they will get started here.
1835: Play will re-start in 10 minutes, 6.45pm local time.
1822: Good news everyone. It’s stopped raining and the covers are coming off!
1800: Still light rain and we have an official announcement that a decision will be taken regarding whether we play today between 8pm and 8.15pm local time if the rain does not stop.
1723: A little better outside although there is still light rain, fingers crossed this will ease sometime soon.
1656: Really not good outside I'm afraid. No official announcement but this weather looks pretty set in.
1640: Sharapova holds after a dramatic game in which she saves a match point as the rain comes down heavily. We will have a tiebreak to decide the match but players are leaving the court now after a game in which Li Na nearly did the splits after slipping.
1629: 6-5 Li. The Chinese saves a break point and then Sharapova fires long at game point. Once again the Russian will serve to stay in the final.
1626: They are going to play on after drying the lines.
1623: Drama. The rain has got too heavy and play has been suspended at 5-5, 30-30 on the Li serve. The players are still on court for now.
1620: Sharapova serves out for 5-5 with Li going long at 40-15. The crowd are getting wet with the rain but we will continue.
1616: Li holds serve courtesy of a Sharapova error now. Suddenly the Russian is serving to stay in the match at 4-5. What a match. What a final.
1612: Li Na is incredibly back in the match. What a strange encounter this is. Li breaks back the Sharapova serve and it is now 4-4 with rain coming down a little harder now.
1607: Li holds. Back to 4-3 Sharapova. Much better serving by the eighth seed to keep Maria honest, and we’re starting to get some exciting rallies again.
1604: Li still has fight inside her and has pulled things back to 4-2 breaking the Sharapova serve again.
1600: That should be the match – but that was exactly what we saying 45 minutes ago. Sharapova raises her game to another level with a couple of sublime winners to lead 4-1.
1553: Sharapova holds fairly easily to lead 3-1. Li has all the work to do now.
1547: Li stops the rot. After Sharapova’s run of eight straight games the Chinese woman is on the board in the final set. 2-1 Masha.
1544: Li is able to raise her game slightly taking Sharapova to 0-40. But Maria saves the three break points and serves out for a 2-0 lead with some fine tennis.
1538: Make that seven games in a row. Li’s game is all over the place and Sharapova breaks again having pegged her opponent back to deuce.
1531: Sharapova takes the set, 6-4. Li goes long at 40-15 and that shot sums things up. She has thrown it away from being in a winning position. Six straight games for Sharapova and the momentum is all with the Russian.
1527: Extraordinary. Li Na got to 40-0 but a couple of unforced errors and a double fault later and it is back to deuce. Then yet another double fault hands Sharapova the break. The Russian will serve to complete an amazing recovering and take the second set.
1521: Maria does hold. It’s 4-4, the Russian has won four games in a row. Now, can Li Na hold?
1516: Li’s having her usual wobble and Sharapova is right back in this. No fluency in the Chinese woman’s shots and it is now back on serve at 4-3 to Li.
1512: Is the comeback on? Maria holds comfortably with her serve back more like it’s old self. 4-2 Li.
1507: One break back for Sharapova who rediscovered her form in that game. Still 4-1 to Li Na though. Umbrellas are at because of the rain.
1500: Li Na has broken again. Extraordinary this, she has taken 15 points out of the last 17 and Sharapova is not enjoying this. The Russian is being thumped, unable to handle the ferocity of Li’s strokes.
1456: Sharapova is being blown off court at the moment as Li shows the form that made her a French Open winner last year. 3-0 and she is closing in on the match.
1452: Li has broken to love. Arguably her best game of the match so far, full of some extraordinary winners including the backhand that took the first of three break points. 2-0 and all to do now for Sharapova.
1448: Li takes the first game but Sharapova is still taking points off her serve. 1-0. We have some spots of rain. The players are continuing for now.
1440: Li Na claims the first set! A sloppy service game from Sharapova who tamely finds the net at 30-40.
1438: Both players hold. Masha to serve to stay in the set at 4-5.
1428: 4-3 Li. Sharapova cannot build on her last game as Li holds to 30.
1424: A tough game for Maria and one she gets through. She recovered from 0-30 down to 30-30, then a double presented break point. But three sloppy points from Li – and three unforced errors – make it 3-3. “Come on,” screams Sharapova.
1417: Li holds to lead 3-2 but not after a tricky service game with Sharapova battling her all the way. The Chinese woman wins two points after deuce for the advantage.
1411: Back comes to Li. She’s broken straight back as Masha nets on break point. Some fine rallies already with both players finding the angles.
1403: First break to Maria. A couple of fine winners and then at 30-40 Li nets. The Russian looks in control already.
1356: First game to Li, winning to 15 with a backhand winner after some Sharapova pressure.
1354: We have play. The rain’s stayed away so far. Li Na to serve.
1321: Good afternoon and welcome to our coverage of the women’s final here at Foro Italico. First thing to tell you is the weather isn’t brilliant. There’s definitely rain in the air and we have been forecast some drops this afternoon. Hopefully we’ll get the tennis in. Sharapova vs Li Na is due to get underway at 1.45pm. The pair, along with Serena Williams, have just been announced in the top 100 of the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities by Forbes magazine. They are the only three female athletes represented. Sharapova has been slowly improving this week after a slow start, her serve looking particularly effective. Li Na has been playing consistent tennis, bar the odd blip. I think Maria will win this in straight sets. Any thoughts or feedback please Tweet me @ianbakersport.