The 2014 Brisbane International signaled the dawn of a new season for the ATP and WTA, serving as part of the preparation for the first Grand Slam event of the year in the Australian Open.
Both of those living legends made their respective finals, but only Williams came out on top, defeating Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 7-5 to successfully defend her title. Federer lost to the gritty veteran and former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in three sets by a score of 6-1, 4-6, 6-3.
Previous two-time reigning tournament winner Andy Murray was not in the field. The 2013 men's champion at Wimbledon is still on the mend from back surgery, but after losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, he beat Stanislas Wawrinka on Dec. 27, in a second exhibition match in Abu Dhabi, per BBC.com.
While the sensational dominance by Williams in currently holding two of the four Grand Slam titles is an intriguing storyline to continue monitoring, Federer was captivating as well.
Competition was tougher for Williams due to the presence of the No. 2 seed Azarenka and third seed Maria Sharapova, among others.
The good news is that Federer turned in a solid result to start the 2014 campaign, capitalizing for the most part on a rather generous slate of opponents after taking home just one singles title all of last season.
According to Federer's official website, the Brisbane International will be his only tournament before the Australian Open gets underway on Jan. 13. While the loss to Hewitt stings, it should provide some extra fuel to prove his detractors wrong in Melbourne.
Read on for daily updates on scores, along with analysis on how the action unfolded at Queensland Tennis Centre.
Men's Day 8 Scores
Lleyton Hewitt def. (1) Roger Federer (6-1, 4-6, 6-3)
Home crowd favourite Lleyton Hewitt won the men's final of the Brisbane International after overcoming top seed Roger Federer in three sets.
It was a welcome return to winning ways for the Australian and he will be relieved to pick up his first tournament victory since the event at Halle back in 2010.
Federer showed guts to battle back in the second set, but will be concerned about a lackluster start and an inability to halt a late Hewitt rally.
The Swiss legend started this one in inexplicably poor fashion. Hewitt broke him three times in an opening set which was riddled with 22 unforced errors from the 17-time grand slam winner and there was little sign Federer could prevent a straight sets defeat; The first set was over in just 27 minutes.
But the Fed-express battled back in a much tighter second set. He and Hewitt held serve for eight consecutive games before Federer notched a break in the ninth game to go 5-4 up. The Swiss held his serve and the momentum looked to be with him going into the decisive third.
Hewitt regrouped and came again, though. He was the much more dynamic player as the match wore on, chasing down everything Federer could throw at him. The Swiss master engineered himself seven break points in the final set, but the Aussie showed magnificent heart under pressure to save them all.
The former Wimbledon and US Open champion managed to break Federer in the fourth game and clung onto his serve for the remainder of the set to take the title. The crowd were delighted and Hewitt has gotten his year off to the best possible start (courtesy of atpworldtour.com):
I played great obviously at the start, really well. It took Roger a little bit of time to get into the match. Then I just had to fight hard at the start of the third set.
Federer, whilst disappointed with his own performance, had plenty of praise for his opponent (courtesy of atpworldtour.com):
I didn't play great today which is a bit unfortunate. But also Lleyton was the best player I played this week. He made it toughest on me. So I have a clear idea what I need to work on, and I have a clear idea where my mind and body is at. I'm very hungry and eager to attack the Australian Open next week.
Nonetheless, both players have shown encouraging form ahead of the season’s first major tournament. For Hewitt especially, who looked close to retirement last season, this win could be an enormous boost ahead of the season curtain raiser, which gets underway on January 13.
Men’s Day 7 Scores
(1) Roger Federer def. (8) Jeremy Chardy (6-3, 6-7, 6-3)
Lleyton Hewitt def. (2) Kei Nishikori (5-7, 6-4, 6-3)
Women’s Day 7 Score
(1) Serena Williams def. (2) Victoria Azarenka (6-4, 7-5)
The men’s final of the 2014 Brisbane International is going to be decided by tennis legend Roger Federer and Australian native son Lleyton Hewitt.
These 32-year-old’s have both found a way to turn back the clock and are set for an epic clash between these two longtime rivals. Hewitt told reporters he understands the significance of the matchup, as per Eurosport (via Yahoo! Sports):
"Obviously, Roger and I have a good history and a lot of tough matches in the past in slams, Davis Cups and everything. I'm going to enjoy it."
These two first met 15 years ago when Hewitt won in Lyon, but Fed eventually gained a firm grasp on the series. The Swiss superstar has won 18 of the 26 meetings between these aging veterans.
He also expressed interest in this upcoming matchup, telling SportingLife.com:
"We go back 17 years, our coaches back in the day were best friends. It's amazing we have a chance to play in Australia, our first time in a final here I think. I struggled a lot against him in the early stages of my career.”
Federer ousted Jeremy Chardy in an exciting, three-set match to punch his tickets to the final. The tipping point came in the final set, when the Frenchman committed two double faults and made a number of errors that allowed the top seed to advance to the finals.
Hewitt capped off his improbable advancement as an unranked participant in this tournament by defeating second-seeded Kei Nishikori. The Aussie was able to make this upset happen by pushing his Japanese opponent all over the court in the 100-plus degree temperature.
It set up what should be an incredible conclusion to the Brisbane International on championship Sunday.
The women’s portion of the tournament concluded with an epic matchup between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
Williams, the world’s No. 1 ranked star, dispatched her second-seeded opponent in straight sets. It was the 14th victory for the American against Azarenka in 17 attempts.
The battle was close, but the Belarusian challenger wasn’t able to do enough to steal a set. Azarenka broke Williams’ serve on two occasions, but she found herself broken three times.
Williams could be on her way to another epic season after finishing 2013 with 11 titles. She didn’t drop a set on the way to this title and looks poised to make a run at the 2014 Australian Open.
Men’s Day 6 Scores
(2) Kei Nishikori def. Marin Cilic (6-4, 5-7, 6-2)
Lleyton Hewitt def. Marius Copil (6-4, 6-2)
(1) Roger Federer def. Marinko Matosevic (6-1, 6-1)
(8) Jeremy Chardy def. Samuel Groth (7-5, 6-4)
Women’s Day 6 Scores
(2) Victoria Azarenka def. (4) Jelena Jankovic (1-6, 6-3, 6-4)
(1) Serena Williams def. (3) Maria Sharapova (6-2, 7-6)
We are reaching the conclusion of the 2013 Brisbane International, as the men have completed the quarterfinals and are down to a final four competitors.
Kei Nishikori has punched a ticket to the semis after knocking out Marin Cilic. The Japanese superstar shook off the immense heat and persevered against his Croatian counterpart.
Nishikori spoke with the ATP Staff of ATPWorldTour.com about his victory:
It was hot, it was tough conditions. Especially playing one-hour sets, two [hours] and forty minutes (on court). It was not easy, but I'm happy to finish strong in the third set. He was dropping his level a little bit I think. I'm very happy today.
He’ll meet Lleyton Hewitt in the next round, the Australian native who has been exceeding expectations. He continued to do so in this event, this time knocking out Marius Copil in straight sets. Hewitt’s biggest test will come in the semifinals, when he takes on the No. 2 seed.
Roger Federer continued to prove he was the best option for the top seed in Brisbane, as the Swiss legend obliterated Marinko Matosevic in back-to-back sets. Matosevic won a total of two games in the match and had no chance against a locked in Fed.
Jeremy Chardy will try his luck against the elite superstar in the semis after beating Samuel Groth. The Frenchman eliminated the Aussie local hero in straight sets, setting up a meeting with Federer.
The marquee match of the day at Brisbane featured top-seeded Serena Williams going head-to-head with third-seeded Maria Sharapova.
While Williams wasn’t in peak form and struggled with her first serve, the American would go on to win in straight sets due to her groundstrokes. Sharapova has emerged victorious in just two of the 17 meetings between these rivals.
Serena is now headed to the finals of this tournament to meet second-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who is coming off a strong win against Jelena Jankovic. The Belarusian star shook off a poor, dangerous start to rally in the second and third sets against a former world No. 1.
Now that she has made it through her side of the bracket, Azarenka will have a chance to avenge last year’s semifinal loss to Williams—this time with the stakes raised. When these women are involved, it would be wise to expect an epic match to conclude the 2013 Brisbane International.
Men's Day 5 Scores
Samuel Groth def. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (4-6, 7-6, 7-6)
Lleyton Hewitt def. (6) Feliciano Lopez (7-5, 6-3)
Marius Copil def. (3) Gilles Simon (7-5, 6-3)
Women's Day 5 Scores
(2) Victoria Azarenka def. Stefanie Voegele (6-4, 6-7, 6-1)
(4) Jelena Jankovic def. (5) Angelique Kerber (6-7, 6-3, 6-1)
(1) Serena Williams def. (9) Dominika Cibulkova (6-3, 6-3)
The fifth day of the 2013 Brisbane International was a thrilling one, full of upsets and intrigue on both the men's and women's sides.
For the men, Gilles Simon was the highest seed to fall on Thursday. The Frenchman was defeated by Marius Copil in straight sets, a disappointing ending to his tournament.
According to NDTV Sports, the 29-year-old Simon blamed fitness for his failings against his Romanian opponent: "I couldn't move my legs -- I had a few body problems. It's always difficult to play the first tournament of the year. Your body has to get used to the heat, the courts, the matches."
Simon declined to comment on the nature of his injury, but said he would be fine for the upcoming Australian Open.
Feliciano Lopez was also upset on Thursday, faltering to Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets.
Perhaps the departure of his signature long locks has something to do with it, as his hair's absence seemed to be the main story surrounding Lopez's appearance in Brisbane. Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times certainly took notice:
Once majestically-maned Feliciano Lopez has gone full jarhead, leaving some of the best hair in tennis on the floor of a barber shop. Shame.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 2, 2014
Finally, Samuel Groth outlasted Pierre-Hugues Herbert in a grueling three-set battle to close the morning matchups. The native Australian and local hero now advances to the quarterfinals.
On the women's side of the tournament, top-seeded Serena Williams continued her dominant stretch of play with a convincing straight-set victory over Dominika Cibulkova.
The American is expected by many to win this tournament and parlay that momentum into another Grand Slam title in the upcoming Australian Open.
Victoria Azarenka also took care of business, but the second-seeded star did have a scare after dropping the second set of her match with Stefanie Voegele. However, Vika recovered quickly to advance to the semifinals.
Jelenka Jankovic and Angelique Kerber put on quite the show, with the No. 5 seeded German finally succumbing in the third and final set. Jankovic will meet Azarenka in the semifinals of this tournament, setting up an epic conclusion to the 2013 Brisbane International.
Men's Day 4 Scores
Marius Copil def. Yuichi Sugita (7-6, 6-7, 7-6)
Lleyton Hewitt def. Thanasi Kokkinakis (6-3, 7-5)
Samuel Groth def. Ryan Harrison (7-6, 7-6)
Marinko Matosevic def. Sam Querrey (5-7, 7-6, 6-4)
Roger Federer def. Jarkko Nieminen (6-4, 6-2)
Kei Nishikori def. Matthew Ebden (6-2, 6-4)
Women's Day 4 Scores
Kaia Kanepi def. Carla Suarez Navarro (8) (6-2, 6-2)
Maria Sharapova (3) def Ashleigh Barty (Ret.)
Stefanie Voegele def. Sabine Lisicki (7) (Ret.)
Angelique Kerber def. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Ret.)
Victoria Azerenka def. Casey Dellacqua (6-3, 6-1)
Day 4 at the Brisbane International in Australia was as much about what didn't happen on the court as what did. The two biggest women's matches on tap for New Year's Eve didn't even happen as two players retired due to injury.
No. 3-seeded Maria Sharapova was set to take on Aussie Ashleigh Barty in the second round, but Barty had to withdraw with a torn left abductor muscle, according to SuperSport Blitz.
Maria Sharapova advanced to the quarter-finals of the Brisbane International after Ashleigh Barty withdrew with a left abductor muscle tear— SuperSport Blitz (@SuperSportBlitz) December 31, 2013
Also, No. 7 Sabine Lisicki was schedule to face Stefanie Voegele, however, Lisicki dropped out of the tournament with an illness, per Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times.
More withdrawals hurting WTA side here in Brisbane, this time Sabine Lisicki withdrawing due to illness. Stefanie Voegele gets walkover.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 1, 2014
One women's match that did take place looked like a competitive tilt on paper, but Kaia Kanepi had no problem ousting No. 8-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets.
There weren't many top stars scheduled to play on the men's side, but the Australian fans certainly got their money's worth.
Lleyton Hewitt is one of the most beloved Australian athletes ever, and he put on a show in front of his home crowd in an easy victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Also, a pair of Americans was eliminated by Australian players. Ryan Harrison lost two tiebreaks in a straight-set defeat to Samuel Groth, while Marinko Matosevic took out Sam Querrey in a three-set, second-round match that was arguably the most entertaining contest of the day.
Although Day 4 was disappointing in some respects with neither Sharapova nor Lisicki taking the court, it was ultimately a success because of how well the Australian men played.
The Australian Open is just a couple weeks away, and if the events of Day 4 at the Brisbane International are any indication, then the home fans will have plenty to cheer about down under.
Men's Day 3 Scores
Nicolas Mahut def. Igor Sijsling; 3-6, 6-4, 6-4
Matthew Ebden def. Alex Kuznetsov; 6-3, 6-4
Feliciano Lopez (6) def. Mikhail Kukushkin; 6-4, 6-4
Jeremy Chardy (8) def.. Adrian Mannarino; 7-6, 7-5
Marius Copil def. Yuichi Sugita; 7-6, 6-7, 7-6
Lleyton Hewitt def. Thanasi Kokkinakis; 6-3, 7-5
Samuel Groth def. Ryan Harrison; 7-6, 7-6
Women's Day 3 Scores
Dominika Cibulkova (9) def. Kimiko Date-Krumm; 6-3, 1-6, 6-3
Jelena Jankovic (4) def. Elina Svitolina; 6-1, 6-3
Serena Williams (1) def. Andrea Petkovic; 6-4, 6-4
Kaia Kanepi def. Carla Suarez Navarro (8); 6-2, 6-2
Men's singles action began with a bang on Day 3 as Frenchman Nicolas Mahut battled back from a one-set-to-love hole to beat Igor Sijsling in the first round.
After leveling the match at a set apiece, Mahut blasted 10 aces and took advantage of his lone break-point opportunity in the deciding set to advance to the second round in Brisbane. Sijsling, who went 0 for 3 on break-point chances in the final set, will be wondering what could have been.
Australian Matthew Ebden also won his first-round match on Tuesday, Dec. 31, taking out American Alex Kuznetsov in straight sets. Afterward, Ebden was asked about his upcoming opponent, No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori, per the tournament's official Twitter account:
Sixth-seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez was also a winner on Day 3, topping Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets to book a spot in the second round. The world No. 28 is on track to meet beloved Aussie Lleyton Hewitt later this week for a berth in the quarterfinals.
Hewitt will first have to get through teenage qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis.
In the women's singles draw, No. 9 seed Dominika Cibulkova was able to fend off 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm despite an impressive rally from the Japanese veteran in the second set.
Date-Krumm would squander 13 break-point chances in the gut-wrenching defeat.
Fourth-seeded Jelena Jankovic also prevailed on Tuesday, defeating Ukrainian challenger Elina Svitolina comfortably in straight sets to advance to the tournament quarterfinals.
Men's Day 2 Scores
Marinko Matosevic def. Julien Benneteau; 5-7, 6-4, 7-6
Jarkko Nieminen def. James Duckworth; 6-2, 6-3
Marin Cilic def. Denis Istomin; 6-7, 7-6, 6-4
Sam Querrey def. Dmitry Tursunov (7); 7-5, 6-4
Thanasi Kokkinakis def. Di Wu; 6-1, 6-4
Yuichi Sugita def. Pierre-Hugues Herbert; 7-5, 7-6
Ryan Harrison (3) def. Tatsuma Ito; 1-6, 6-3, 6-0
Grigor Dimitrov (5) def. Robin Haase; 6-2, 6-3
Women's Day 2 Scores
Dominika Cibulkova (9) def. Heather Watson; 6-4, 6-3
Ashleigh Barty def. Daniela Hantuchova; 6-3, 7-5
Kaia Kanepi def. Alexandra Panova; 6-3, 6-7, 6-2
Carla Suarez Navarro def. Su-Wei Hsieh; 6-2, 6-1
Jelena Jankovic (4) def. Francesca Schiavone; 6-2, 7-6
Casey Dellacqua def. Galina Voskoboeva; 3-6, 6-2, 6-3
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova def. Alla Kudryavtseva; 7-6, 6-4, 6-3
Angelique Kerber (5) def. Kristina Mladenoivc; 6-2, 6-2
Maria Sharapova (3) def. Carolina Garcia; 6-3, 6-0
Monday brought the turn of the men in getting their Brisbane International tournament underway, and even at this early stage of competition, the stars didn't fail to disappoint.
The Australian pair of Marinko Matosevic and James Duckworth had mixed luck at the first hurdle. The former triumphed over Julien Benneteau in three sets to earn his first victory in front of a home crowd, whereas Duckworth was soundly ousted from the running after falling to Jarrko Nieminen 6-2, 6-3.
Later on in the day, Sam Querrey managed to earn a memorable win over seventh seed Dmitry Tursunov, although it came close to the wire as both sets were decided by fine margins.
That wasn't long after Marin Colic got his tournament off to a bright start, coming from a set down to beat Denis Istomin 2-1 at the first obstacle.
Later on in the men's fixtures, Ryan Harrison suffered an early scare after losing his opening set against Tatsuma Ito.
However, the favourite rallied following the upset start to emerge as 2-1 victor, winning the second set 6-3 before demolishing the Japanese hopeful 6-0 ti finish with some flair.
Thanasi Kokkinakis and Yuichi Sugita had a far more rudimentary time in their opening fixtures. Kokkinakis conceded just five games in his two-set routing of Di Wu, while Sugita would defeat Pierre-Hugues Herbert 7-5, 7-6 to book a spot in the next round.
For the women, things got slightly tenser after Sunday's action was decided all too simply.
This time, Kaia Kanepit and Casey Dellacqua were made to fight for their progress, and each came out on top of three-set thrillers against Alexandra Panova and Galina Voskoboeva, respectively.
Britons will have been disappointed to see Heather Watson bow out of the competition at this early stage as she suffered a straight sets defeat against ninth-seed Dominika Cibulkova.
The world No. 121 made her opponent fight for the first set, but slipped to a disappointing 4-0 deficit in the second and was made to look out of her depth.
Elsewhere, Carla Suarez Navarro gave up just three games in her 6-2, 6-1 win over Su-Wei Hsieh, whereas world No. 47 Francesca Schiavone was handed her marching orders by fourth seed Jelena Jankovic, who strutted to a 6-2 opener before squeaking through thanks to a 7-6 win in the second set.
In her first match since suffering a shoulder injury in August, Maria Sharapova glided to a victory over Caroline Garcia in two quick sets. The Russian star needed just 64 minutes to dispose of her first opponent in nearly four months.
Sharapova's victory sets up a Davis vs. Goliath second-round matchup with 17-year-old Ashleigh Barty, who continued to roll with a victory over Daniela Hantuchova.
Women's Day 1 Scores
Sabine Lisicki (7) def. Magdalena Rybarikova; 6-3, 6-4
Andrea Petkovic def. Bethanie Mattek-Sands; 6-4, 7-5
Kimiko Date-Krumm def. Olivia Rogowska; 6-3, 7-5
Elina Svitolina def. Varvara Lepchenko; 6-3, 6-3
Stefanie Voegele def. Madison Keys; 6-4, 6-3
All the women's matches on the first day of the tournament were competitive but relatively drama-free considering none extended beyond two sets.
Sabine Lisicki was the most notable player to take to the court and the only seeded one to do so. The surprise 2013 Wimbledon finalist disposed of Magdalena Rybarikova rather easily in straight sets, smashing seven aces and utilizing her power-based game well on the hard-court surface.
It was a tough day for U.S. tennis fans, as all the three American women lost their respective matches.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands, whose style continues to be more compelling than the state of her game, was broken four times on serve in losing in the opening round to Andrea Petkovic.
A hard-hitting but erratic Varvara Lepchenko was broken five times in a loss to Elina Svitolina. Lepchenko won just seven of 26 second service points, while her opponent won half of the 24 she was involved in. That served as the big difference.
The precocious Madison Keys, all of 18 years old, has plenty of room to improve, but she hit just 43 percent of her first serves in, which was too much to overcome against Stefanie Voegele.
Rounding out the results was Kimiko Date-Krumm's straight-sets triumph over Olivia Rogowska.