• Brisbane International

Williams holds off Azarenka to retain Brisbane crown

ESPN staff
January 4, 2014
Serena Williams kicked off her season in style © Getty Images

Serena Williams successfully defended her Brisbane International title after getting the better of Victoria Azarenka 6-4 7-5 in a thrilling final.

The world No. 1 was tested by the player second in the rankings, but ultimately it was Williams who emerged victorious, collecting her 14th win over Azarenka to begin her season how she finished off 2013 by lifting another trophy.

Azarenka played well during the early exchanges of the final, and unusually it was Williams who was required to dig deep to stick with her opponent. However, Azarenka's hard work was undone in the seventh game as Williams broke to lead 4-3 thanks to a wild forehand from the world No. 2, and Williams went on to take the opening set with successive aces.

Williams broke and raced into a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Azarenka put on a fine run of four straight games to go 4-2 in front.

However, an overhead smash from Williams enabled her to level at 4-4, and with both players tied at 5-5, a moment of brilliance was needed to determine the outcome of the match.

Which was delivered by Williams as she powered a superb backhand down the line to break for 6-5, and held serve for the win to retain her title.

"I want to congratulate Vika for being a great player and a great champion, and just someone I enjoy playing against and seeing around," said Williams. "Brisbane is a wonderful city, which is why I have been here for three years in a row, and I enjoy being here every day."

Azarenka said: "I want to congratulate Serena on a great week and a great match today. I always enjoy playing against you and I hope to meet you again in Melbourne."

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