Organisers remain hopeful Serena Williams will return to defend her title at the Brisbane International in 2015 after her final against Victoria Azarenka drew record crowds.
Over 100,000 spectators flocked to the Queensland tennis centre to watch top seed Serena Williams battle it out against second seed Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Brisbane International 2014.
World No. 1 Serena Williams prevailed, winning her 58th career title with a straight sets defeat over the Belarusian.
Williams had an incredible run at the tournament and did not drop a set en route to victory, also defeating World No. 9 Dominika Cibulkova and No. 3 Maria Sharapova along her way. The final was by no means a complete wipe out, but it was another straight sets win for Williams 6-4, 7-5 in just 98 minutes, despite not being at her career best.
Each player held their serve in the opening six games of the first set, before a powerful topspin return from Williams off Azarenka’s serve gave her the early break. Williams then held serve comfortably to seal the set 6-4 in just 37 minutes.
Although she served ten aces for the match’s entirety, it was obvious Williams was not in her career best form. The American had trouble with her serve against Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, where in uncharacteristic fashion, she served two double faults in the second set tiebreaker. It seemed her serving woes had continued over into the final where she was broken multiple times on serve throughout the second set.
Azarenka double faulted and hit her forehand into the net in the opening game of the second set, gifting Williams the early break. The defending champion just about had victory set in her sights at that point as Azarenka looked down and lost as she failed to even win a single point of serve. Williams went on to hold serve and lead 2-0.
The match took another twist as Azarenka aced Williams to hold serve, a stark comparison to her previous service game. And then, in a slight momentum change, the Belarusian picked up her rhythm and stormed through the next four games to set up a 4-2 lead.
It was Williams’ who was now on the back foot, trailing 2-4 in the second, this match was by no means won yet. The American matched Azarenka’s level and stepped up to the challenge as she broke back to settle the score at 4-4 prompting her to yell “come on” and clench her fist.
It became a very vocal battle between the women’s top seeds, but it was Williams who was eventually able to prevail, as she hit a backhand winner down the line to clinch the last break point before serving out the match with ease.
After the match, Williams said: “One of my goals is to stay relaxed, but I don’t want to fall into the trap of not having the intensity. So I wanted to make sure I had the intensity.”
However Azarenka was not happy with her own efforts and was left reeling the missed opportunities:
"I can’t say I’m satisfied today, but I want to take the positive. It’s never easy. It’s not a secret, but I think I was able to break her today. It was just a matter of those really key moments to go for it. I felt like in the second set I was going for it more. I just mis-hit a little bit," the World No. 2 said.
It was a perfect start to the year for Williams who had an amazing run in 2013 winning 11 titles. The victory over Azarenka marked her 22nd win in a row.
Organisers remain hopeful Williams will return in 2015 as the top seed drew a large crowd to the tournament in 2014.