In what could be a dress rehearsal for the Melbourne decider, Williams won a close first set then edged Azarenka in the second to win 6-4, 7-5 in 98 minutes.
Williams, the defending champion in Brisbane, just shaded Azarenka throughout, with her powerful serve proving the main difference between the world’s two top players.
Williams broke Azarenka once in the first set. Although she lost her serve twice in the second, she broke Azarenka three times to seal a victory.
The win was Williams’s 14th over Azarenka in 17 meetings, and stamps her as the player to beat in Melbourne later this month.
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