Serena Williams proved the break between seasons hasn't hurt her momentum, capturing her 47th career title with a comprehensive 6-2, 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Saturday in the Brisbane International final.
Williams has won 35 of her past 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the U.S. Open, the season-ending championship and now the first event of 2013.
She already has won the Australian Open five times, and with the season's first major a little more than a week away, she's in good shape to add another one.
The Brisbane final was all over in 50 minutes on Saturday night, with Williams dictating terms from the first break of serve in the sixth game.
"I always feel like I don't know how to play tennis when I play against you"
"I always feel like I don't know how to play tennis when I play against you," Pavlyuchenkova told Williams at the trophy presentation.
The pair had travelled together on a training trip to Mauritius in the offseason but didn't really hit against each other at the time.
"But this was true what I said," the No. 36-ranked Pavlyuchenkova, who has won 3 WTA Tour titles and more than $2.8 million in prize money, later said of her post-match assessment.
"When she's on fire, well I feel like there is not much I can do. I mean, she's a great player and she deserves to win."
Williams said she's been concentrating on being calm and composed, and has started to feel 'serene' when she's in her zone on court. She's been feeling that way a lot in the amazing comeback since her first-round exit at the French Open, her earliest ever loss at a Grand Slam event.
"I was looking at a lot of old matches on YouTube, and I feel like right now I'm playing some of my best tennis,'' the 15-time major winner said.
"I feel like I want to do better and play better still.''
Pavlyuchenkova's post-match comment, she said, was "a great compliment and a great honour for someone of her caliber to feel that way.''
Home win for Li Na
Top seed Li Na survived a mid-match meltdown to overcome Czech Klara Zakopalova 6-3 1-6 7-5 in the final of the inaugural Shenzhen Open on Saturday, earning the Chinese a seventh career title.
World number seven Li, who won the 2011 French Open, looked in danger of disappointing the home fans after surrendering her serve in the first game of the deciding set.
Li, who beat fellow Chinese Peng Shuai 6-4 6-0 in Friday's semi-finals, hit back to win five of the next six games but from 5-2 up allowed fifth seed Zakopalova to draw level at 5-5.
In a topsy-turvy finish encapsulating the match, Li collected herself to put together two solid games and give her a boost ahead of the Australian Open, which begins on January 14.
Li reached the final of the year's first grand slam in Melbourne in 2011 before going on to become China's first major singles champion in Paris.
Saturday's victory was Li's second WTA title in China, following her breakthrough at Guangzhou in 2004 when she became the first Chinese winner on the women's tour.
The $500,000 Shenzhen tournament became the third event in China on the WTA calendar for 2013 as tennis continues to expand in the country after Li's recent success.