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Tennis No.1 Azarenka starts 2013 in style
By Jim Morton
23:26 AEST Wed Jan 2 2013

World No.1 Victoria Azarenka has continued her Down Under love affair by "taking some bullets" on her way to an impressive warm-up for her Australian Open defence.

In her first tennis match of the 2013 season, Azarenka maintained her flawless record at the Brisbane International with a 6-3 6-3 second-round victory over big-serving German Sabine Lisicki.

The 23-year-old did not drop a set en route to the inaugural tournament title in 2009 and she never gave the world No.37 a look in during her return on Wednesday night.

The flat, heavy groundstrokes and strong return held sway over one hour 27 minutes to take her unbeaten match record to four against the German.

Azarenka thrives on the Australian plexicushion courts and broke through for her maiden grand slam win at Melbourne Park last year - wiping Maria Sharapova off Rod Laver Arena 6-3 6-0 in the final - after previously taking out the Sydney International.

It was the springboard to a 26-match unbeaten streak, the longest on the WTA Tour since Martina Hingis in 1997, which propelled her to the No.1 ranking.

"I guess it's the whole package for me," Azarenka said of her Australian success. "And at the beginning of the year, you're obviously hungry to play.

"The atmosphere here brings out the best in me ... the motivation is always extraordinary."

But she stressed her 2013 campaign would be a new slate.

"I really mean it when I say that I don't look to defend anything," the Belarusian said. "I look forward to repeat, to win.

"You defend in a war or something, but not in tennis."

Azarenka will play Kazakh qualifier Ksenia Pervak, who upset Caroline Wozniacki in the opening round, in the quarter-finals but is set for a mouth-watering semi-final showdown against Serena Williams in a replay of the 2012 US Open final.

Lisicki upset Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon last year but could not keep the pressure on Azarenka, despite breaking back three times and firing down serves in the 190km/h range.

Pleased to start her campaign with a tough clash, the world No.1 rated Lisicki's serve among the most challenging on tour behind the Williams sisters.

"I was prepared to take some bullets today, even though sometimes it looked like I wasn't," she said.


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