Another season, another title. Serena Williams threw down a challenge to her rivals in the Australian Open, which starts next Monday, with a fine performance in the final of the Brisbane International tournament, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-1.
That made it 47 career titles for Williams, but more importantly carried her astonishing run of form to 35 victories in her past 36 matches, which included titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open and last season's Tour championship. If the American is feeling on top of the world, she will be if she lifts the Australian Open title, and at 31 she would become the oldest women's No 1, surpassing Chris Evert.
It was all so routine for the world No 3, and Pavlyuchenkova put her dominance, not just of this match but the women's game, into perspective when she said after her defeat in 50 minutes: "I always feel like I don't know how to play tennis when I play against you."
Having been broken in the first set, the Russian managed to interrupt a sweeping run of games for Williams by winning the fourth game of the second set, but that was as good as it got for her.
In the men's draw, Andy Murray advanced to the final when fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori retired with a knee injury while trailing 6-4 2-0. In his attempt to retain the title, Murray was due this morning to play Grigor Dimitrov, who lived up to his billing as a future star by reaching his first Tour final with a 6-3 5-7 7-6 victory over Marcos Baghdatis.