BRISBANE, Australia: Victoria Azarenka capped a resurgent week with a 6-3, 6-1 win over fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber in the Brisbane International final on Saturday to claim her first title since 2013.
While many of the highly-ranked women have struggled with injuries at the start of the season, Azarenka has shown glimpses of the kind of form that helped her win back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and ’13 before injuries interrupted her next two seasons.
Azarenka was unseeded in Brisbane, where she won the inaugural title in 2009, because her ranking slipped to No. 22 at the end of 2015. But she dropped just 17 games in five matches — equaling Serena Williams’ record for fewest games conceded by a winner at the tournament. It was an 18th title for former No. 1-ranked Azarenka, and her first since beating Williams at Cincinnati in August, 2013.
Top-ranked Williams was on the injured list this week, restricted to one set at the Hopman Cup in Perth because of inflammation in her left knee, while No. 2 Simona Halep and 2015 champion Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Brisbane tournament before playing a match and No. 3-ranked Garbine Muguruza retired with injury in her opening match.
Azarenka hit 25 winners and committed only nine unforced errors in the final, weathering some heavy groundstrokes early from the left-handed Kerber and dominating after a trade of service breaks before holding for a 5-3 lead. She broke three times in the second set, which she controlled after fending off three breakpoint chances in the first game.