Victoria Azarenka has won her first title in nearly two-and-a-half years as she made it six wins out of six against Angelique Kerber to capture the Brisbane Invitational title. A 6-3, 6-1 victory means the Belarusian is now, with the bookies, second favourite to win the Australian Open title.
Both Off To Flying Starts
The early exchanges of the final saw both women going hammer and tong from the offset; an incredible angled cross court forehand winner from Kerber in just the third game of the match highlighting what was to come. However, it was Azarenka who took the first break of the match, in Kerber's very next service game, with a deft volley before the German fired a forehand wide, although that advantage didn't last for long as Kerber broke back immediately.
Yet Azarenka wasn't to be deterred and made it three breaks in a row as the half hour (a half hour of high quality tennis), neared. The former world no.1 this time around consolidated the break and would break the Kerber serve to love to take the opening set 6-3. Kerber was playing well at stages, yet her game was seemingly playing into the hands of Azarenka's strengths, as has proven in the pair's previous five meetings; Azarenka winning all of them. The Belarusian made 14 winners to just 5 unforced errors in a set where she stuck at it throughout, whereas Kerber looked to have faded a little towards the back end, when it mattered.
Azarenka Pulls Clear And Eases To Victory
Kerber unsurprisingly came out all guns blazing at the start of the second set as she looked to fight her way back into the match. Three break point opportunities were created, but she failed to take any of them and Azarenka held on. If that was a big blow for the world no.7, the next game would have felt like a knockout punch by Muhammed Ali, as Azarenka duly broke for the fourth consecutive Kerber service game and was now in complete control of the final, consolidating for a 3-0 lead.
Azarenka was now coasting to the title as a double fault from Kerber gave the former two time Australian Open champion yet another break, effectively two championship points there and then. She served out for her 2nd title in Brisbane and her 18th career title. It was Azarenka's first title since beating Serena Williams in Cincinnati in August 2013, also maintaining her unbeaten record against Kerber, who never really recovered once she fell behind.
Azarenka loves Melbourne, the venue for her two major titles so far. Based on this performance and this week, the new Brisbane champ is a real contender to win a third Australian Open title in three Saturday's time.
She looks to be well and truly back.