BRISBANE, Australia – World number one Serena Williams won the season-opening Brisbane International tennis tournament when she beat second seed Victoria Azarenka on Saturday.
Williams won a close first set then edged Azarenka in the second to win a tense final 6-4, 7-5 in 98 minutes.
The defending champion just shaded Azarenka throughout, with her powerful serve proving the main difference between the world's top two players.
Williams broke Azarenka once in the first set. Although she lost her serve twice in the second, she broke Azarenka three times to seal victory.
The win was Williams' 14th over Azarenka in 17 meetings, and stamps her as the player to beat for the Australian Open later this month.
Williams, who also beat world number four Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals, did not drop a set on the way to the final.
The American lost only four matches in 2011 on her way to winning 11 titles, including two Grand Slams.
She regained her number one ranking eight weeks into 2013 in a year that also included a winning streak of 34 consecutive matches.– Sapa-AFP