Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Serena Williams cements status as Australian Open favorite

January 4, 2014 -- Updated 2029 GMT (0429 HKT)
Serena Williams took a tumble Saturday but still beat Victoria Azarenka to capture the Brisbane title.
Serena Williams took a tumble Saturday but still beat Victoria Azarenka to capture the Brisbane title.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Serena Williams wins the Brisbane title by defeating Victoria Azarenka
  • Williams extends her winning streak to 22 matches and ends Azarenka's run in Australia
  • Roger Federer reaches the men's final by beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy
  • In a battle of former No. 1s, Ana Ivanovic gets the better of Venus Williams in Auckland

(CNN) -- Given the way Serena Williams played in 2013 -- amassing a 78-4 record and picking up two more majors -- she was always going to be the favorite at the Australian Open.

She is now even more of a favorite after defeating the reigning two-time Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka, to capture the title in Brisbane on Saturday.

In downing the world No. 2 6-4 7-5, Williams extended her winning streak to 22 matches and ended Azarenka's 24-match run in Australia.

Williams also came through against a tough opponent in the semifinals, seeing off Maria Sharapova in straight sets.

"I feel like I'm being pushed into the deep end straightaway," the 17-time grand slam champion and world No. 1 was quoted as saying by the WTA's website. "I think it's a good thing.

Serena Williams' inner circle
Serena Williams' toughest challenge
Life on the road with Serena Williams

"In Melbourne if I have to face Maria again, I'll know a little bit more what to expect, and same thing with Victoria. If I happen to play against her in Melbourne, I'll know what to do and what to expect."

Williams was never in danger in the opener but had to rally from a 4-2 deficit in the second set against the player who severely tested the American in September's U.S. Open final.

Williams -- hampered by ankle injuries in Melbourne the previous two years -- improved to 14-3 against Azarenka.

"I want to play better," Azarenka told reporters. "I'm a perfectionist.

"I can't say I'm satisfied today, but I want to take the positive, what I've done today, and build from here towards the next week."

The Williams sisters were denied a double as hours before Serena's victory, Venus Williams fell to Ana Ivanovic 6-2 5-7 6-4 in Auckland in a battle of former No. 1s.

Ivanovic had lost eight of her previous nine encounters against the elder Williams.

"I've worked really hard for this and many times I've been in a position to win another title, so to come through in a final like this against such a good player is obviously a great feeling," Ivanovic, who bagged a title for the first time since the end of 2011, told the WTA's site.

Azarenka on 'amazing' Australian win
Who will be the tennis ace of 2014?

Nadal triumphs in Qatar

In Doha, men's No. 1 Rafael Nadal beat Gael Monfils 6-1 6-7 6-2 to bag his 61st title. In the Open Era, that puts him in sole possession of eighth, surpassing Andre Agassi.

"It is the first time in my career that I am able to start the season with a victory," Nadal told the ATP's website. "That's always important."

Roger Federer advanced to the men's final in Brisbane, hitting 20 aces to overcome Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-7 6-3.

A 17-time major champion like Serena Williams, Federer faces Lleyton Hewitt in the finale after the Aussie veteran upset Kei Nishikori 5-7 6-4 6-3.

Federer -- trying to rebound from a disappointing 2013 -- leads their head-to-heads 18-8.

"It's been a good week so far, and I hope I can play a good final," Federer told the ATP's website. "We know each other very well, so both of us will find our groove and know what to expect from one another."

Read: Can Federer find his old form?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
Rafael Nadal is still the "King of Clay" -- but his crown has slipped a bit, says CNN's Will Edmonds.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
May 5, 2014 -- Updated 2359 GMT (0759 HKT)
British tennis player Elena Baltacha won 11 ITF Pro Circuit titles during her 16-year playing career.
The Ukrainian-born, British tennis star loses fight against liver cancer, just a few weeks after revealing that she was battling the disease.
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1238 GMT (2038 HKT)
Suisse's Belinda Bencic returns the ball to France's Alize Cornet during the second match of the Fed Cup first round tennis tie France vs Switzerland on February 8, 2014 at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris. AFP PHOTO / KENZO TRIBOUILLARD (Photo credit should read KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)
It's no easy matter becoming a world class tennis player. It's even harder when everyone (really -- everyone) is calling you the "new Martina Hingis."
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
At the 2009 Australian Open, French men's tennis was the talk of the town.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - APRIL 14: Rafael Nadal of Spain sails a boat during day two of the ATP Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis at Monte-Carlo Sporting Club on April 14, 2014 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal may be most at home on a clay tennis court, but he has always found comfort on the sea.
March 21, 2014 -- Updated 1107 GMT (1907 HKT)
Tennis star Venus Williams reveals how she is beating the autoimmune disease that derailed her career.
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
After two decades dedicated to the game, Amelie Mauresmo wants a second life -- one away from tennis.
Rafael Nadal of Spain wipes his face after losing his men's final match against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland during day 14 of the 2014 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 26, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.
Almost five years to the day after reducing Roger Federer to tears at the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal shed a few in his own loser's speech.
ADVERTISEMENT