Serena fires first shot

American triumphs at Brisbane; Federer in final

Serena fires first shot

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 favourite 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.

Nadal survives

World No 1 Rafael Nadal will face Frenchman Gael Monfils in the final of the Qatar Open after surviving a tough test against German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in Doha on Friday.

The Spaniard dropped the opening set against the World No 162 before raising his game sufficiently to battle through 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Monfils beat Florian Mayer, 6-3, 6-2.

Ivanovic wins 

Ana Ivanovic claimed her first WTA Tour title in more than two years with a 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory over fellow former World No 1 Venus Williams to clinch the Auckland Classic on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Serbian had not won a title since she completed a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues in Bali at the end of 2011.

Somdev through 

In Sydney, India’s Somdev Devvarman notched up a win against Belgium’s Niel Desein 6-2, 2-6, 6-4  to advance to the next round in the ATP Apia International qualifiers on Saturday. 

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