Sunday, January 13, 2013

Serena streaks to Brisbane victory

By Luke Pentony at Pat Rafter Arena

Updated January 06, 2013 08:15:50

Serena Williams sent an ominous warning to her rivals ahead of the Australian Open, winning the final of the Brisbane International in compelling fashion at Pat Rafter Arena.

Williams claimed her 47th career title with a straight-sets defeat of close friend Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, posting a 6-2, 6-1 triumph in just 50 minutes.

The world number three, a winner of 15 major singles titles, will head to Melbourne with great confidence, as she has now lost just one match since exiting the French Open in the first round last May.

Williams described her Brisbane campaign as the ideal tune-up for the Australian Open, which begins January 14.

“It was a really good week for sure,” she said.

“I definitely worked hard for this week and I’m going to do a little more work so I can be ready in eight days.”

Williams did not drop a set in Brisbane and while the Friday night faithful were robbed of a semi-final clash between her and Victoria Azarenka when the world number one withdrew with a toe injury, those in attendance on Saturday evening were treated to a sublime display.

The 31-year-old fired down nine aces and scalped four breaks of serve, with the 36th-ranked Pavlyuchenko left frustrated after what had been a giant-killing week in Brisbane.

She beat seeds Petra Kvitova (sixth) and Angelique Kerber (fourth) in straight sets and her form in the Queensland capital suggests she should edge closer to her highest ever ranking of 13 during the season.

“I started the match pretty well, I think, but when she’s on fire ... I feel like there is not much I can do,” Pavlyuchenkova said.

“Still, I was hoping to turn the match around. Until the end I was fighting, like every point.”

Two breaks of serve proved to be the key for Williams in claiming the first set, although Pavlyuchenkova showed in the early stages she was intent not to allow her opponent to dictate terms.

She was not afraid to go for her shots on the Williams serve and this was evident when she crunched a crosscourt forehand winner to lead 30-15 during the third game.

Williams eventually held to lead 2-1 and games continued to go on serve until Pavlyuchenkova’s third service game.

She conceded her first double fault and her defensive game fell to pieces when Williams capitalised on her first break point with a powerful forehand that the Russian failed to return.

Williams, leading 4-2, knew she had the upper hand and after holding serve she secured her second break with Pavlyuchenkova conceding the set after just 24 minutes with a double fault.

The command Williams enjoyed showed no sign of diminishing in the second set, as she leapt quickly out to a 2-0 lead, having broken Pavlyuchenkova for the third time.

Williams illustrated the depth of her game in claiming the break of serve with a brilliant crosscourt volley at the net that left Pavlyuchenkova stranded near the baseline.

To the credit of Pavlyuchenkova she refused to give up and after Williams held her next service game she got on the board to trail 3-1.

But it did prove to be as close as the 21-year-old could get to Williams, who grabbed another break in the sixth game prior to serving for the match.

She clinched the title with a sizzling backhand winner in the corner, an appropriate punctuation mark to what had been an impressive showing.

“I’ve been in the zone a few times, I don’t know if I was in “the zone” today,” Williams said of her performance.

“I was definitely heading in that direction.

“I think it is the zone. I’ve been in the ‘Twilight Zone’ where I just felt so good I couldn’t do anything wrong.”

Williams will now head to Melbourne to complete her preparations under coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Elsewhere, Li Na won the Shenzhen Open on Saturday, beating the Czech Republic's Klara Zakopalova 6-3, 1-6, 7-5.

Tags: sport, tennis, brisbane-4000, qld, australia

First posted January 05, 2013 21:12:16

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