The Brisbane International tennis tournament is one of the big events that kicks off the year before the Australian Open and the first grand slam of the year and things started off with some excitement, as names like Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova are in action and this will be a nice warm up for the stars as they get ready for the Aussie Open.
In the first round for the men, Marin Cilic advanced and so did Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey also made it through to the next round and some of the women's scores included Jelena Jankovic winning as well as Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber. Sabine Lisicki and Andrea Petkovic also advanced out of the first round and the three US women all lost their matches that were in action, while Williams is looking like the favorite after her strong 2013.
Sharapova is coming back into the tournament after an injury and she looked good in her return and she won over Caroline Garcia of France 6-3, 6-0 on Monday and now she has the chance to keep rolling down under as she gets into the Australian Open. Sharapova is one of the favorites as she comes back from injury and she looked very sharp on Monday, hitting over 25 winners in the match and she only had 10 unforced errors and if she can keep that play up she could end up in the finals.
Roger Federer is looking to get better and more consistent as he tries to win a Grand Slam this year after being shut out last year and he would like to add to his 17 total before Rafael Nadal catches up with him and that could happen soon.
Here is a look at the Brisbane tournament from Reuters.com and more on Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal as they get the 2014 season started and this comes after the two won the US Open last year in grand fashion. Azarenka thinks her rivalry with Serena Williams is making her a better player and is looking forward to renewing it over the next four weeks at the Brisbane International and the Australian Open.
Rafa Nadal in 2014 than adding to his 13 grand slam titles, the world number one was quoted as saying on Friday.
Spaniard Nadal had one of the best season's of his career in 2013 following his return in February after seven months out with a knee injury, winning 10 tournaments including a record eighth French Open crown and a second U.S. Open title.
As he gears up for the start of the 2014 tour, the 27-year-old Mallorcan told Spain's As newspaper remaining healthy and being able to challenge at the top level were his priorities.
"What I want is to be able to start the year well and in shape to compete in the big tournaments," Nadal said.
"In that sense, and thinking about 2014, I am not going to talk at the moment about winning the ninth Roland Garros or winning Wimbledon again, which would be the third time.
"No, look: what is important to me is to maintain my fitness in a way that will allow me to play the whole year, and competing at a good level.
"You see it's not easy: I couldn't do that, for the whole season, in 2012, 2013."
Nadal's 10 titles last season came close to matching the best year of his career, when he won 11 in 2005, including his first Roland Garros crown.
He said his enforced rest in the second half of 2012 had meant he was fresh and hungry on his return and that was possibly why he had been so successful. Nadal will get his next crack at a grand slam when the Australian Open starts in Melbourne in mid January.
He is playing compatriot and world number three David Ferrer at an invitational event in Abu Dhabi later on Friday. World number two behind the 17-times major champion, Azarenka will only meet Williams if both players make the final at the Pat Rafter arena next weekend and Melbourne Park on Jan 25.
The Belarussian, who has won the Australian Open for the last two years, has a 3-13 record against Williams but split last year's four matches and beat the American 7-5 6-3 in an exhibition match in Thailand at the weekend.
"I think it's great, first of all, to be a part of that rivalry because it really helps you to grow as a player, as a person," the 24-year-old told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.
"You learn things about yourself and what you need to improve, because when somebody is taking you to the limit you really have a good look at what you have to do better to rise up.
"I definitely enjoy that and love tough competition. To take that challenge for me every time is very exciting. That's what I wake up for and train hard for."
Azarenka avoided Williams altogether in Australia last year, firstly in bizarre circumstances in Brisbane when she was forced to withdraw from their semi-final meeting after a pedicure went wrong.
They were again scheduled to meet in the last four in Melbourne before an injury-hampered Williams lost her quarter-final to compatriot Sloane Stephens.
Azarenka's subsequent victory over Stephens in the semi-finals, when she took a controversial 10-minute medical time out, means she has of lot of goodwill to win back in Australia over the next month.
"Every year I look so much forward to coming here," she said, apparently unperturbed. "It's one of my favorite places to play. I've loved it since I was a junior."
Second seed Azarenka will open her new season in the second round of the Brisbane International against local wild card Casey Dellacqua, who beat Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva 3-6 6-2 6-3 in the first round on Monday. (Reuters)