Serena Williams blows hot in Brisbane
Tennis:An angry and impatient Serena Williams overcame blustery conditions at the Brisbane International on Sunday in an ominous beginning to her only tournament before her charge at a 16th Major title at the Australian Open next month.
The American threw her hands in the air, shook her head, gesticulated towards her coach and stomped her feet in petulant protest, but that did little to help compatriot Varvara Lepchenko who suffered a 6-2 6-1 first round defeat.
Howling with frustration in her first match since winning the WTA Championships at Istanbul in October, lacking rhythm in swirling winds on Pat Rafter Arena, Williams still delivered enough booming serves and punishing groundstrokes to prevail in a formidable if cantankerous display.
The reigning Wimbledon, Olympic and US Open champion told reporters a calendar-year Grand Slam was very much on her mind at the start of the season.
Williams held all four Major titles in the so-called Serena Slam of 2002-2003 but the holy grail of professional tennis is to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open tournaments in the same calendar year.
The American claimed world number one Victoria Azarenka and number two Maria Sharapova, and perhaps a few fringe-dwellers, were eyeing off a near-impossible feat not achieved since Steffi Graf's unbeaten run through 1988.
“I think whoever wins the Australian Open will have that same thought,” Williams said. “I think there is no way that Victoria or Maria or maybe some other players don’t have that same thought. I think I definitely feel that way.”
Both Azarenka and Sharapova are in a red-hot Brisbane field with Williams. Of the world’s top 10, only Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na are missing.
Sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova had a 6-3 6-4 win over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain and will next meet Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who beat Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Roberta Vinci, ranked 16th, went down to a 4-6 6-1 6-3 defeat by wildcard Jarmila Gajdosova.
The Australian will now face number two seed Maria Sharapova in the second round who had a bye in the first round.
Urszula Radwanska of Poland beat Tamira Paszek of Austria 2-6 6-0 6-2 and Slovakia’s Daniela Hantuchova had a 7-5 6-2 win over Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain.
Meanwhile, Venus Williams played a pivotal role as the United States claimed a 2-1 victory over South Africa at the Hopman Cup in Perth.
The 32-year-old came from a set down to beat Chanelle Scheepers 4-6 6-2 6-3 to put the United States 1-0 up in the tie.
However, South Africa responded with Kevin Anderson claiming a 7-6 (7-0) 7-6 (7-5) win over John Isner, who is ranked 23 places higher than his opponent at 14.
Williams and Isner then came together for the deciding rubber and clinched the tie by winning the mixed doubles 6-3 6-2.