Serena fires her way to victory, Federer sets up Hewitt showdown
By Ciaran Baynes
BRISBANE (Reuters) - Serena Williams laid down an imposing marker ahead of the first grand slam of the year by powering to a 6-4 7-5 victory over Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka at the Brisbane International.
The American won the battle between the world's top two players to pick up her 58th career title.
In the men's draw, Roger Federer will be chasing a 19th win over home favorite Lleyton Hewitt when the two 32-year-olds renew their friendly rivalry in Sunday's final.
Both players needed three sets to reach the final with top seed Federer beating Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 and Hewitt downing Japan's Kei Nishikori 5-7 6-4 6-3 in stifling conditions.
The women's final lacked the intensity of Williams' victory over Maria Sharapova on Friday but lived up to its promise in a pulsating second set.
The world number one's serve was far more consistent than in her previous match and she did not face a break point in taking the first set.
She was gifted the only break in the seventh game when Azarenka blasted a forehand wide down the line.
The American then sealed the set with an ace and an early end to the match seemed likely when she broke the Belarusian in the first game of the second set, but instead it brought her opponent to life. Continued...