Serena Williams opens season with impressive victory in Brisbane
Last Updated: 01/01/13 9:02pm
Serena Williams in action in Brisbane as she powered past Varvara Lepchenko
Serena Williams opened her season with a 6-2 6-1 win over fellow-American Varvara Lepchenko in the first round of the Brisbane International.
Williams, the dominant player of 2012 despite not finishing the year as world No 1, hit the ground running against one of the rising stars of the WTA tour.
The American superstar had to undergo minor surgery on one of her big toes, which forced her to pull out of an exhibition event in Thailand earlier this week.
She showed no ill-effects, Williams fighting off five break points early in the match before racing into a 4-0 lead against Uzbekistan-born Lepchenko, the world No 21.
After a brief rally from her fellow-American, she clinched the first set, and powered through the second in just 23 minutes.
Having lost three matches in the first half of the season, Williams won 31 of her 32 matches in the second half of last season including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open and the WTA Championships.
This is her only warm-up event before the Australian Open, and she already looks in ominous form.
"My foot didn't hurt today," Williams said. "I was a little nervous, but I was completely fine.
"Tomorrow is the last day of the year, so technically I still had my 2012 rep on the line," she said. "I really needed to win today so I could finish the year with still just the four losses. So that was important for me."
Elsewhere sixth seed Petra Kvitova beat Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3 6-4 and the Czech will next meet Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who edged out Lucie Hradecka 6-3 3-6 6-3.
There was a victory to savour for the local fans, Australian wildcard entry Jarmila Gajdosova upsetting the world No 16 Roberta Vinci 4-6 6-1 6-3 to set up a crack at Maria Sharapova.