Source: Agencies | 2013-1-2 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
SERENA Williams carried her relentless winning form into the New Year with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Alize Cornet at the Brisbane International yesterday after Maria Sharapova withdrew and two more top ranked players were bounced in the second round.
Third-ranked Williams, who finished off the 2012 season with titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the US Open and the season-ending WTA Championships, needed only an hour to beat the No. 44-ranked Cornet and move into the quarterfinals.
She said she had a touch of insomnia after arriving in Australia, and was awake listening to the New Year's Eve fireworks and celebrations in Brisbane on Monday but not able to join in.
Williams was hitting winners so fiercely that Cornet didn't bother chasing many of them into the corners, and hit a serve at 200kph in the second set.
Sharapova withdrew earlier with an injured right collarbone, while 2011 champion Petra Kvitova didn't find any rhythm in a 4-6, 5-7 loss to Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Combined with Daniela Hantuchova's 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 win over No. 5 Sara Errani and the first-round exits of No. 7 Sam Stosur and No. 8 Caroline Wozniacki, the season-opening event featuring eight of the top 10 ranked women had already lost five of its top eight seeds.
No. 2-ranked Sharapova said she didn't want to risk aggravating a collarbone problem that flared late last month and had also forced her out of an exhibition in South Korea. She started hitting overheads and serves only on Monday, and said it was wiser to head to Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open, starting on January 14.
"I still have quite a bit of time to prepare for Australia. I'm on the right track, been training really well, so I just don't want to jeopardize what I've gained in the offseason so far," the French Open champion said. "Just have to make a smart move here."
On the men's side, local qualifier John Millman, ranked No. 199, advanced to a second-round match with Olympic and US Open champion Andy Murray by beating Japan's Tatsuma Ito 6-4, 6-1.
Spain's Tommy Robredo advanced 6-4, 7-6 (4) over American Ryan Harrison and Alejandro Falla of Colombia set up a second-round match with No. 3-seeded Gilles Simon with a 6-1, 7-6 (8) win over Jesse Levine.
Seventh-seeded Jurgen Melzer of Austria downed Denis Kudla of the US 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.