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Serena extends career-best run, wins Rome title



Rome, Italy (Sports Network) - Another impressive performance by the seemingly indomitable Serena Williams.

The world No. 1 ran her career-best win streak to 24 matches in Sunday's final at the Italian Open with a 6-1, 6-3 thumping of Victoria Azarenka, the last player to beat the American superstar.

Azarenka snapped a nine-match slide in the series against Williams in the final of the Qatar Open back in February. Since that setback in Doha, followed by an injury withdrawal in Dubai, Williams has captured four straight titles, upping her career total to 51.

The third-seeded Belarusian got off to a promising start on the outdoor red clay at the Foro Italico, winning the first three points on serve in the opening game. Williams battled back, however, and capitalized on her third break point chance.

Williams also struggled during her initial service game. Unlike her opponent, she was able to hold after fighting off a pair of break points, then broke again to go up 3-0.

Azarenka earned a break in the next game when a Williams shot went awry, but Williams won the next three games to claim the first set.

The second set remained on serve until Azarenka sent a backhand wide, giving Williams a break and a 4-2 lead. Azarenka broke back at 15, but a double fault enabled Williams to serve for the title. Williams closed out the match with a love service game.

The 31-year-old Williams fired eight aces and compiled 41 winners to just 12 for Azarenka. She is now 33-1 on clay since the start of last year's clay court season, with the lone loss coming to Virginie Razzano at Roland Garros.

Williams dropped only 14 games en route to her second Rome crown, adding to her triumph in 2002. She became the first top seed to win the title at this event since Dinara Safina four years ago.

Azarenka, 23, fell to 2-12 in head-to-head meetings against Williams and 1-6 in clay court finals.

05/19 10:28:46 ET