You don't see tennis players implode on themselves as quickly and as violently as Li Na did in Sunday's final of the 2012 Italian Open. Na seemingly had the match and the tourney in hand, leading 6-4 4-0, and then, well, everything fell apart.
Na lost eight consecutive games behind a slew of unforced errors and allowed Sharapova to break her serve three times. When all was said and done, Sharapova had won the second set 6-4 and had a 2-0 lead in the third. Na regained her composure to force a third-set tiebreak, but Sharapova took control there, jumping out to a 3-0 lead, eventually earning the 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-5) win.
The match was made slightly more epic -- or unbearable -- by incessant rain toward the tail end of the day. Rain first struck with the match at 5-5 in the third set then, after play resumed, began again before the deciding tie-breaker. The delays lasted roughly two hours.
It's Sharapova's second win on the year, and would have been Na's first since last year's French Open. With the French Open looming, it's great for Sharapova to earn the win on clay. Not much you can say about Na, who seemed the better player for so long but just didn't have the ability to perform when it counted. That said, the stage will only get bigger and the pressure higher at Roland Garros, so she should work on that composure thing if she wants to win her second major.