Tennis-Serena offers ominous warning for Australian Open rivals

BRISBANE Sat Jan 5, 2013 4:35pm GMT

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BRISBANE Jan 5 (Reuters) - Serena Williams felt she was close to accessing the sporting "zone" during her emphatic 6-2 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final of the Brisbane International on Saturday.

Williams needed only 51 minutes to beat the Russian in an ominous warm-up for the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on Jan. 14.

"I've been in the zone a few times," Williams told reporters.

"I don't know if I was in the zone today, but I was definitely heading in that direction. I've been in the twilight zone before, where I just felt so good I couldn't do anything wrong."

The world No.3's performance was so strong that Pavlyuchenkova said afterwards: "I always feel like I don't know how to play tennis when I play against you."

Williams captured the 47th title of her career. She has won 35 of her past 36 matches while claiming Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open, the season-ending tour championship and now the opening event of 2013.

The 31-year-old American roared through the Brisbane tournament without the loss of a set.

She said: "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. I feel like I want to do better and play better still."

Williams said a decision to seek on-court tranquillity after a shattering defeat to Virginie Razzano at the French Open last year had triggered her career resurrection.

"I really started being more calm on the court and just relaxing more, if it's possible for me to relax," she said.

"I feel better when I'm more calm. When I'm crazy like I was in Paris, as you can see, it doesn't do great for me. I think it is a really fine line between being too calm... I think sometimes if I'm too calm it doesn't work for me, either. I can be calm and still be pumped up and really excited.

"I can't do too much of either."

Williams said she wanted to take up meditation as an off-court routine, even though it would challenge her.

"I can never sit long enough for meditation," she said. "I really want to meditate more and I want to be still and be in that quiet area. But I just pick up my iPad and start playing some games, and then next thing I know I'm watching TV.

"Hopefully I can get there."

At Melbourne Park Williams will be chasing her 16th major championship and sixth Australian Open title.

She will start as the clear favourite after her irresistible progress through the Brisbane event coincided with injuries hampering the preparations of world No.1 Victoria Azarenka (toe) and No.2 Maria Sharapova (collarbone).

(Editing by Stephen Wood)

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