Serena Defeats Azarenka To Retain Brisbane International Title

World number one, Serena Williams, has started the year 2014 in fine style by successfully defending her Brisbane International title with a 6-4 7-5 win over second seed Victoria Azarenka.

This is Serena’s 14th win in 17 meetings with Azarenka, whom she beat in last year’s US Open final for her 17th Grand Slam.

The 32-year-old American, who won 11 tournaments in 2013, lost her serve twice in the second set but broke back three times to overcome her opponent in 98 minutes.

The 2013 French Open winner is a five-time champion in Melbourne but has not won the title since 2010.

The straight-sets defeat of Belarusian Azarenka, extends her run of successive victories to 22 and ensured she went through the tournament, in which she beat world number four Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, without dropping a set

The victory in Brisbane is the perfect start to the New Year for Serena after her remarkable achievements in 2013 where she won 78 of her 82 matches and had a career-best run of 34 consecutive wins.

 

Williams to face Azarenka in Brisbane final

Serena Williams will play Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Brisbane International on Saturday.

Serena Williams played erratically but still beat Maria Sharapova 6-2 7-6 (9-7) on Friday (January 3) to reach the final of the Brisbane International.

In a match that involved poor serving and high-quality groundstrokes in equal measure, Williams maintained her hold over Sharapova to set up a final showdown with second seed, Victoria Azarenka.

Williams’ semi-final victory over the world number four extended her winning streak against the Russian to 14 consecutive matches. Sharapova failed to take real advantage in a match comprising 10 breaks of serve.

Williams secured the first of the 10 in the fourth game and although Sharapova broke straight back, she lost her serve twice more as the American ran out a comfortable first set winner.

The Russian responded well to hold a 2-1 lead after three consecutive breaks of serve in the second set, then won the ensuing service game, but lost the next one to restore parity.

In the tiebreak, Williams’ groundstrokes gave her the advantage, but Sharapova saved one match point with a smash and the American needed three match points before sealing victory with an ace.

Serena praised her opponent, saying of the tiebreak: “Yes, it definitely could have gone either way, Maria was playing so well. It’s a wonder that she took some time off. But you definitely can’t tell. So, she gave me a really tough tiebreak and a tough match today.”

Azarenka defeated Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the second semi-final, although she, too, played erratically against the world number eight.