Serena Finishes Sharapova-Azarenka 1-2 Punch to Win Brisbane
If world No. 1 Serena Williams was looking to make a statement in the first tournament of the year at the Brisbane International, consider it made. After defeating former No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, the American beat former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 7-5 in the final, her top two adversaries, without dropping a set.
“It’s definitely always interesting to play someone like Victoria,” Serena said. “I know her game, I know what she does — but she goes out and improves, so every time I go out there and play her, things I thought were her weaknesses are now her strengths.” Translation: ‘Whatever she does to improve, I will beat her.’
The first player in the history of the Brisbane tournament to successfully defend a title, Serena improved to 58-17 in career finals, 14-3 career against Azarenka, and extended a win streak continued from 2013 to now 22 matches. Azarenka, who will stay at the No. 2 spot on the WTA Rankings, dropped to 17-15 in career finals.
A First for Nadal in Doha Title Victory Saturday
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal captured his first Doha title on Saturday, defeating unseeded Gael Monfils 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-2 for his 61st career crown at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.
“Rafa put pressure on me from the first point,” Monfils said. “He was very aggressive from the first game and it was tougher for me to adjust. It’s always tough to play against him and at the end he was a bit better than me.” Monfils fell to 4-16 in career finals after a third runner-up effort in Doha.
“Every victory is important and the title today means a lot to me,” Nadal said. “It is the first time in my career that I am able to start the season with a victory. That’s always important.”
Ivanovic Downs Determined Venus in 3 for Auckland Crown
In a battle of two former No. 1s looking to again claim spots in the Top 10 on the WTA tour, No. 2 seed Ana Ivanovic outlasted unseeded Venus Williams 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 in Auckland, New Zealand for the title at the ASB Classic.
For Ivanovic it was a first title since Bali in 2011. For Williams it was a missed opportunity to claim her first title since Luxembourg in 2012.
“Coming into this week I didn’t really have any expectations,” said Ivanovic, who is projected to rise to No. 14 on the WTA Rankings. “I didn’t even think about making the finals or winning it. I just tried my best, and I felt very comfortable here…I’m just happy that after losing that second set I managed to stay calm and close it out.”
Ivanovic improved to 12-5 in career finals, while Williams dropped to 44-28. “Today for me it was all about fighting, because I didn’t feel I was playing my best,” said Williams, who fought off a set point in the second to extend the match to three sets. “I fought as hard as I could no matter what the score was, but I just ran into a better player today.”
Li Na Successfully Defends Shenzhen, Drops Peng to 0-6 Career
Top-seeded Li Na won the all-Chinese final on Saturday at the Shenzhen Open in China, defeating No. 5-seeded Peng Shuai 6-4, 7-5.
“I’m happy to defend my title for the first time,” Li said. “It proved I can do it. Everything is moving in the right direction and after this tournament I’m going to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open.”
Li improved to 8-11 in career finals after winning a third career title in China. Peng fell to 0-6 career in WTA finals.
“I can get very tentative in matches, and so my coach is always telling me to not play tentative, to persevere,” said Peng, who fought through a leg injury during the final.
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