>> Monday, May 21, 2012
In a wildly swinging final battle, world no. 2 Maria Sharapova edged out no. 8-seed Li Na to win the 2012 INTERNAZIONALI BNL d’ITALIA women's singles title. Li seemed headed for a straight set victory when she went ahead 62 40 but Sharapova quickly won the next eight games to go ahead 62 46 20. With Sharapova up 4-1 in the third set, Li bounced back to take a 6-5 lead before Sharapova saved a match point and held after several deuces to force a tiebreak. At this point, play was suspended because of intermittent rain. When play resumed after the break, Sharapova finally squeaked past the French Open champion 46 64 76(5) for her second straight Rome title.
For the title win, Sharapova earned $385,000 prize money and 900 ranking points. As runner-up, Li earns $192,000 prize money and 620 ranking points. Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber, the two other semifinalists earned $95,100 in prize money and 395 ranking points. It was the second clay court title this year for Sharapova as she won also in Stuttgart for her two titles of the season. On top of that, Sharapova had three other final finishes in Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami. Sharapova improved to 7-4 in their head-to-head career meetings. It was the first time that Sharapova is able to defend a clay court event and she heads into the French Open with the co-favorite tag along with Serena Williams.
Prior to the start of the Rome tennis tournament, Sharapova was no. 2 in the year-to-date prize money leaders list with $2.3 million in earnings, while Li was no. 14 with $470K. To date, world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka is at the top of the list with $4.5 million and leads three other players past the $1 million mark. The other players surpassing $1 million are world no. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska with $1.9 million and Serena Williams with $1.2 million.
2012 WTA Prize Money Leaders - as of May 14, 2012
1 Azarenka, Victoria BLR $4,503,146
2 Sharapova, Maria RUS $2,295,090
3 Radwanska, Agnieszka POL $1,894,023
4 Williams, Serena USA $1,197,465
5 Errani, Sara ITA $753,459
6 Wozniacki, Caroline DEN $671,024
7 Kvitova, Petra CZE $591,375
8 Vinci, Roberta ITA $570,270
9 Bartoli, Marion FRA $531,219
10 Goerges, Julia GER $528,218
11 Kerber, Angelique GER $516,343
12 Clijsters, Kim BEL $513,691
13 Stosur, Samantha AUS $497,449
14 Li, Na CHN $470,763