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Serena off to a flyer in 2013 with Brisbane title: Murray into men's final

updated 1:26 PM EST, Sat January 5, 2013
Serena Williams clearly delighted to have started 2013 by winning the Brisbane International title.
Serena Williams clearly delighted to have started 2013 by winning the Brisbane International title.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Serena Williams claims Brisbane International title
  • Straight sets demolition of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-1
  • Serena aiming for 16th grand slam title at Australian Open
  • Defending champion Andy Murray into men's final Sunday on Gold Coast

(CNN) -- Serena Williams posted an ominous message to her rivals after starting 2013 by taking the Brisbane International title Saturday with a straight sets demolition of Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Williams needed just 50 minutes on the Pat Rafter Arena for a 6-2 6-1 victory in just 50 minutes and will go into the Australian Open Monday week as firm favorite.

She has won a staggering 35 of 36 matches since last year's French Open and after her latest victory admitted she was in prime form.

"I was looking at a lot of old matches on YouTube and I feel like right now I'm playing some of my best tennis," she told the official tournament website.

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"I feel like I want to do better and play better still, and I've always felt like I could play better."

Her rivals for the opening grand slam of the season will be hoping that is not the case and certainly the overpowered Pavlyuchenkova was in awe of her opponent.

"When she's on fire there's not much I can do," Pavlyuchenkova said."You have to play your best tennis every point, which is quite tough."

Third seed Williams had a free run when World No.1 Victoria Azarenka pulled out of their semifinal rather than risk a toe injury ahead of Melbourne, while second-ranked Sharapova also withdrew before the start of the tournament with a collarbone injury.

Williams, who recently had minor foot surgery, took control of the title match from 2-2 in the opener, winning seven games in a row.

Pavlyuchenkova could offer little response to nine aces and 24 winners as Williams claimed her 47th career WTA title.

"That was really good -- I think I just kind of zoned and I felt like I really wanted to do well," Williams added.

Meanwhile, defending men's champion Andy Murray reached the final of the ATP event in Brisbane as semifinal opponent Kei Nishikori of Japan pulled out injured in the second set.

The fifth seed Nishikori had led 4-1 in the opener before being troubled by a left knee injury.

Murray was leading 6-4 2-0 in 45 minutes when he called it a day.

The World No.3 will play Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria who reached his first ATP final by edging out Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus 6-3 5-7 7-6.

"I have to say I'm very, very happy. It's definitely it's a great feeling," the 21-year-old said.

In other ATP action Saturday, France's Richard Gasquet beat Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 3-6 7-6 6-3 to win the Qatar Open title.

It was Gasquet's eighth career ATP title.

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