16 May 2016

Murray and Williams win in Rome

6:35 am on 16 May 2016

Andy Murray and Serena Williams have won their respective singles titles at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome.

Murray punctured Novak Djokovic's air of dominance by beating the out-of-sorts Serb in straight sets in the final.

Andy Murray at Italian Open 2016.

Andy Murray at Italian Open 2016. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Just a week after Djokovic had beaten him in the final of the Madrid Open, the Scot gained his revenge over the world number one in another claycourt final with a superb 6-3 6-3 win in one hour and 35 minutes.

Djokovic was not at his best and in a grumpy mood, complaining on several occasions to the umpire about the slippery court surface on a damp day at the Foro Italico.

He slumped to only his third defeat of the entire season, hitting a couple of errant forehands and a double fault in the final game before Murray conjured up one inspirational backhand winner to lift the title.

No British man had won the Italian title since 1931 and the triumph gives the world number three Murray a major boost before the second of the season's grand slams, the French Open, starts next week.

It was a first win on clay against Djokovic in five attempts for the Scot, who turned 29 today.

Murray will return to the world number two ranking ahead of the French Open at Roland Garros.

Meanwhile Serena Williams had to overcome a stubborn effort from Madison Keys to win the first all-American women's tour final for four years in straight sets.

The world's best player demonstrated her readiness to begin the defence of her French Open title next weekend with a 7-6(5) 6-3 win but was so impressed with her 21-year-old compatriot that she predicted Keys could become a future world number one.

Serena Williams Italian Open 2016

Serena Williams Italian Open 2016 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It was Williams's fourth title triumph in Rome in 14 years, her 70th career title in all and her first since winning in Cincinnati nine months ago.

The 34-year-old great has looked more vulnerable of late, losing in the semi-finals at last year's U.S. Open and final at the Australian Open and Indian Wells this season.

Yet even though this was her first claycourt appearance of the season, it was enough to confirm she is in fine shape for Roland Garros, with plenty of room also for improvement.

For Keys, it was major breakthrough to reach only her third final and the youngster gave her opponent enough trouble for Williams to tell her afterwards: "I'm so proud of you. You can get to world number one."

Keys broke Williams's serve in the opening game and, able to match the world number one for power, she pushed the top seed into a tiebreak in the first set before succumbing.

Even though Williams looked a little rusty at times and was not quite at her best, she still took control in the second set to wrap up victory after one hour and 24 minutes.