Brisbane: Former world number one Victoria Azarenka stormed to her second Brisbane International title when she downed Germany's Angelique Kerber in straight sets on Saturday. Azarenka, who won her maiden WTA title in Brisbane in 2009, overwhelmed the fourth-seeded Kerber, winning 6-3, 6-1 in 73 minutes, her sixth win over the German in six meetings.
Victoria Azarenka lifts the Brisbane title. Pic: AP/PTI
It was Azarenka's first title since she won in Cincinnati in August, 2013. She sustained a foot injury in 2014 and only played nine tournaments. In 2015, she suffered a thigh strain that saw her slip down the world rankings. Azarenka admitted that she hadn't played at 100 per cent fitness during 2015.
"I was hurt the whole year -- there was not a moment where I felt good and had no pain," she said. "It was a constant battle with pain, with my own fear. Like is it going to hurt again? I don't want to go through that." The two-time Australian Open champion steadily improved in each round in Brisbane and showed in the final she will be a serious contender in Melbourne.
"The focus is still there on Melbourne," said Azarenka, who brought a young fan on court to join her victory celebration. "I'm going to do everything I can next week to prepare and feel the most comfortable to start the tournament. I can't wait to be in Melbourne." Both women started the final in superb touch, playing with power and placement and looking untroubled on serve.
But in the fifth game Kerber faltered and Azarenka broke the German to move ahead 3-2. Kerber broke straight back but she was unable to keep the pressure on and lost her next two service games, handing Azarenka the set with a double fault. Kerber had her chances at the start of the second set and had three break points.
However, Azarenka saved them all and broke Kerber, and from that point the Belarusian never looked like losing. Kerber said the first set and the start of the second were close but she conceded she made too many mistakes.
"I think the first set was -- we played both on the really high level," she said. "But I think I made a few more mistakes than over the last few days, and she was playing very aggressively. She was going for it," Kerber added.