Azarenka overpowers Lisicki in Brisbane

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iol pic sport Victoria Azarenka

Brisbane - Ever dissatisfied world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka began her build-up to the Australian Open with an imposing 6-3 6-3 victory over big-serving Sabine Lisicki in the Brisbane International second round on Wednesday.

The defending Australian Open champion made light work of the German to set up a quarter-final clash against qualifier Ksenia Pervak.

“I'm such a picky person that I probably never will be satisfied,” Azarenka told reporters.

“That's a good thing because I have a lot more matches to play and I can always improve. But it was pretty good. I felt like the things that I've been working on are there. I'm getting into the competitive groove and I'm happy where I'm at right now.”

Azarenka faces a challenge to her top ranking from world No. 2 Maria Sharapova and No. 3 Serena Williams when the Australian Open begins at Melbourne Park on January 14.

“I actually don't really look at defending anything - I'm just looking to win,” she said.

“I'm going to have the same mindset for as long as I'm playing. That's what I'm looking forward to - improving my game as I always do and match those big challenges, the big players.

“At the beginning of the year, you're obviously hungry to play. The atmosphere here in Australia brings out the best in me. The motivation is always extraordinary. I really like it here.”

Williams will follow Azarenka on to Pat Rafter Arena on Thursday when she plays fellow countrywoman Sloane Stephens.

The powerful and athletic 19-year-old is regarded as the successor to Serena and Venus Williams as the face of American tennis.

“She's so sweet,” Stephens said of Serena Williams.

“I love her. Obviously she's been a really great influence on my tennis career. I'm excited to play her and get on the court with her tomorrow. I think it'll be fun.”

Men's top seeds Andy Murray and Milos Raonic start their campaigns on Thursday against Australia's John Millman and Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov respectively. - Reuters


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