MADRID (AP) - Defending champion Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Madrid Open Sunday to retain her No. 1 ranking and collect her 50th career title.
With the top ranking at stake, Williams stormed out to an early lead as Sharapova struggled with her serve.
The second-ranked Russian briefly recovered her poise in the second set, but Williams' form never wavered as she eased to the title.
"I'm very happy, many thanks," Williams told the Caja Magica crowd in Spanish before being hoisted aloft by the ball boys to celebrate the trophy.
Williams improved her record against Sharapova to 13-2, with both losses coming in 2004.
It was Sharapova's first loss in a red clay final after winning seven in a row.
In the men's final later Sunday, Rafael Nadal seeks his fifth title of the year since returning from a left knee injury against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.
The 31-year-old Williams, playing in her first red clay final since 2002, dominated Sharapova from the start.
Sharapova committed five double faults in her first three service games, dropping the first two as Williams easily won the first set. Her shaky serve let Williams gear up and land several winning drives before closing out the set with a floating return that clipped the line.
Sharapova broke serve to open the set and went ahead 3-1. But her serve would again betray her as she hit another double fault to give back the break.
Williams closed out the match after Sharapova recorded her eighth double fault, then hit the ball long on the final point.
Last year, Williams won here on the experimental blue clay surface that was removed after complaints from players that it was too slick.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic wasted a chance to serve out the match and was beaten 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 by sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych in the Italian Open quarterfinals Friday.
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