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
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.
“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.
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.”