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Azarenka caps resurgent week with first title since 2013

Azarenka caps resurgent week with first title since 2013

BRISBANE: 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 Serena at Cincinnati in August, 2013.

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.

Roger Federer and Milos Raonic won the men’s semi-finals and will meet again in the Brisbane International final in a reprise of the 2015 decider at the Australian Open warm-up tournament.

Defending champion Federer, who has been dealing all week with lingering flu-like symptoms, had a 6-1, 6-4 win over eighth-seeded Dominic Thiem, while Raonic beat local hope Bernard Tomic 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5).

Federer held off Raonic in three sets here last year, earning his 1,000th career match win as he clinched the title.

Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2016

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