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Azarenka wins Brisbane International

January 10, 2009 17:17 IST

Belarussian Victoria Azarenka beat Marion Bartoli 6-3 6-1 in the women's final at the Brisbane International on Saturday to capture her first WTA singles title.

The second-seeded Azarenka ended a frustrating run of four final losses in the past two seasons with a dominating display, winning the tournament without dropping a set.

The 19-year-old reeled off six games in a row to close out the first set and open up a 4-0 lead in the second as Bartoli's game began to fall apart.

Bartoli, a former Wimbledon finalist, had defied the odds just by reaching the final after being struck down by illness for most of last year but was unable to match her younger opponent.

Her loss completed a disappointing day for the French in Brisbane after Spanish Davis Cup hero Fernando Verdasco and Czech Radek Stepanek won their semi-finals against French opponents.

Third-seed Verdasco beat Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2 6-1 before eighth-seed Stepanek came from behind to beat Richard Gasquet 2-6 6-2 6-4.

"I think the whole match, even when I lost the first one, was played to a high quality, it was a very tough match," Stepanek said.

MORE AGRESSIVE

"I think I was the one who was more active in the last two sets, I was more aggressive. I tried to finish the points and I think that was the difference between us today."

Verdasco was untroubled beating Mathieu in just 78 minutes, winning 11 games in a row after trailing 2-0 in the first set, despite having his concentration momentarily broken by a female fan who asked him to marry her.

"I just told her that it is not the moment right now," he joked.

"I am focusing on tennis. Maybe if I get married it is worse (distraction). I told her that I need time."

Verdasco has lost his two previous matches to Stepanek but said he was better prepared this time.

"I know his way of play, he knows that. But I have confidence that I can win," Verdasco said.

Stepanek said he was also confident despite being wary of Verdasco's improvement in recent seasons.

"Definitely I would like to destroy his rhythm," Stepanek said. "He keeps improving but I am doing the same thing.

"It is a great feeling winning four matches at the start of the year in the first tournament and I am definitely full of confidence and happy with the way I am playing."

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