In a packed Pat Rafter Arena, former 2009 champion Victoria Azarenka faced fourth seed Angelique Kerber for the Brisbane International title. The Belarusian was coming into the match with a 5-0 head-to-head record. If their previous meeting was anything to go by, this looked to be an exciting final. With quality starts from both players, it eventually went the way of the Belarusian who sealed the victory in 73 minutes to win her second Brisbane title with her last title win going all the way back to 2013 Cincinnati.
Azarenka Pulled Away In Tight, Quality First Set
The match got underway with Kerber serving and it was a routine of holds for both players in the first four games. Neither gave the other too many free points and it looked to be a long tight match. In the fifth game, first break point opportunity came to the former world number one. However, Kerber saved it by stepping up to hit a winner behind Azarenka. The Belarusian setting up another chance with a delightful touch at the net and she drew first blood grabbing the first break of the match. Kerber waited no further and immediately got the break back with great covering and shot making.
It was followed by another break of serve in the following game to give Azarenka the 5-3 lead. The German was with the errors as she presented the Belarusian with three set points. A quality set ended on a poor note as Kerber hit a double fault allowing Azarenka to take the first set 6-3. The former champion was now halfway to winning her second Brisbane title.
Azarenka Wins The Important Points; Kerber Fizzles Out
The Belarusian got the second serve underway and Kerber came out the blocks looking to break. Kerber felt the pressure and Azarenka was able to hang onto a hold. The German faced break points on her serve yet again and Azarenka did not wait around, as she forced Kerber to net the ball to go up 2-0 in the second set. Azarenka had a quick hold of her own to win six consecutive games in a row.
The fourth seed looked irritated with herself but got herself on board in the second set to make it 3-1. At 4-1, Kerber again found herself under pressure, but she could not hang on even with the crowd lending their support, as the Belarusian broke again in the second set. The former world number one created two championship points but lost the first after losing her footing. However, she made no mistake on her second opportunity as she won the title and match 6-3, 6-1.
It was not at the level of their previous meeting at the third round of the US Open, but a happy Azarenka still thanked Kerber. "Thank you for pushing me. You definitely push my limit", she said at the trophy presentation.
The Winning Numbers
In the end, it was the German's staggering 27 unforced errors which were her undoing. Azarenka was more clinical with just nine unforced errors. The Belarusian converted more of her break point chances at five out of eight while the German only broke once out of her five chances. Kerber's two double faults both gifting Azarenka the games.