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Serena Williams kicked off the new season in the same form she ended the last one, taking her winning streak to 22 matches on the way to the Brisbane International title. Serena collected her first title of 2014 after seeing off world number two Victoria Azarenka 6-4 7-5, ending the Belarusian’s own 24-match winning run.

Following a 2013 in which she amassed a 78-4 record and picked up two more majors – there is little surprise Williams will head to the Australian Open as a heavy favourite with bet365 to win the title for a sixth time.

After seeing off defending champion Azarenka so close to the start of the Aussie Open, Serena will head to Melbourne with even shorter odds than before she arrived in Australia.

Williams had to come through a semi-final against Maria Sharapova to earn her place in the final, and the American believes coming up against her main rivals in preparation for the Australian Open will stand her in good stead should she meet either Azarenka or Sharapova in Melbourne.

"I feel like I'm being pushed into the deep end straightaway. I think it's a good thing,” said the 17-time grand slam winner after her victory in Brisbane. “In Melbourne if I have to face Maria again, I'll know a little bit more what to expect, and same thing with Victoria. If I happen to play against her in Melbourne, I'll know what to do and what to expect."

While the Australian Open may not have seen the best of Serena in recent years, her five previous title winning appearances in Melbourne show she has the game to succeed at the tournament.

When taking into consideration just how dominant Serena has been over the past year, it’s hard to see just how any of her rivals can stop her from collecting an 18th grand slam title, a point bore out by the latest bet365 odds.
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