Victoria Azarenka played like a freight train that could not be stopped at the Brisbane International. Her dominance from end to end completely overwhelmed Germany’s Angelique Kerber to win 6-3, 6-1 at Pat Rafter Arena Saturday to win her first WTA title of the 2016 season. This was the second time Azarenka took home the title with her last coming in 2009.
This was the sixth time that the two titans of tennis have met one another and couldn’t have come at a perfect time. It was the former number one looking to get back to the top but she’d have to get by one of last season’s successful players on the WTA circuit. Kerber was a finalist in five tournaments winning four of them over the course of the year.
Like the German, Azarenka has had good years similar to hers in the past but the past 18 months have been a long fight back to the top for the winner of the tournament in 2009. With her wanting nothing more than to win a third Australian Open title, she would have to use her strength from the last four games to combine for huge statement in what would be a challenge against a strong player like her.
A battle ensued as Azarenka found herself down 0-40 against Kerber’s serve. Though she fought her way back, the German held on the break to win the first game leading straight on. Azarenka served up a strong first serve with her second coming to play just once to even up after two.
Both players held service through four games until a defensive attack from Azarenka arose from the monotony. She got ahead in the fifth but allowed Kerber to come back and force deuce. She couldn’t manage it for long as the 16th ranked tennis star held the opportunity for the break point and won it.
The ladies went another pair of games winning the break point each time, until the set win got closer. For Azarenka, her 4-3 lead meant a strong service had to come from her. She did exactly that switching the direction of the ball during the rally to play for the set after 36 minutes of play.
Unforced errors and a double fault put it away in favor of the Belorussian to win in two minutes later. Though she had control of the match, the play between the two has been even on the offensive side of their games. The difference came down on the errors where Azarenka only made five while Kerber notched 11.
The second set began as a continuance of a beating from the Belorussian. She continued her rush from the opening set to take the next three straight slowing gripping her hands around the title. Kerber was in a huge hole and hoped to find something to get her out of trouble.
She saw the light at the end of the tunnel in the fourth game that helped her hold serve and shatter Azarenka’s six game winning streak. The lone victory didn’t help her cause for a comeback as the powerful Vika went on to take the next two as she dictated the set. On her service for the match, she allowed Kerber two points before ending it on a wide open part of the court to win the title in 1 hour and 13 minutes. The last eight of ten went to the Belorussian who was in control of her opponents showing that she was the one to win the tournament from the start.
She had an amazing week and she’s always a tough opponent,” Kerber said about Azarenka. “I was hoping to win one time against her and now it’s six and I hope I one day get the chance to win.” Though it was one of her worst losses in months, she took the finalist finish in stride knowing who was better on the night.
For the newly crowned champ she gave her humble opponent credit for playing hard against her. “I know I’ve won against her so far but she pushed me to play well and I hope the two of us play more matches and put on a good show.”
The show goes on for both players as they move into the next tournament with Kerber set for Sydney while the Belorussian prepares from the Australian Open in over a week.