Maybe Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova should have gone to the same pedicurist as Victoria Azarenka. That way, she may have avoided the pounding dished out to her by Serena Williams in the final of the Brisbane International.
The Russian world number 36 was brushed aside by the rampant American at Pat Rafter Arena as Williams completed a week of tennis that can’t be viewed as anything but the boldest of statements heading into the Australian Open.
There can be only one question worth pondering about the women’s draw at Melbourne Park. Who can possible stand in the way of Serena?
The tone of the women’s final was set from the moment Pavlyuchenkova fired off her first serve of the night. Williams rocked back, smoked a disdainful forehand down the line and from there, it was one-way traffic, with the third-seeded American romping home 6-2 6-1 in 50 minutes.
Williams was salivating at the Pavlyuchenkova serve all night, showing up a glaring weakness in her opponent’s weaponry and quickly dispatching anything less than perfect. Williams, on the other hand, machine-gunned nine aces. It was brutal.
“I don’t know how to play tennis when I play against you,” was all Pavlyuchenkova could say after the rout, at least getting the quote of the week if not the result.
Williams has won so many tournaments that she thanked her father in the acceptance speech, even though he wasn't there. It's all become so routine, she admitted as she corrected herself.
Williams was fresh as a daisy for the final after world number one Azarenka withdrew just half an hour before their scheduled semi-final on Friday night, citing a toe infection from a pedicure gone horribly wrong.
Danger apparently lurks in the most unexpected places for pro tennis players but Williams was quick to give the Belarussian the benefit of the doubt, saying she too had felt the pain of an infected toe.
Harsher judges were liable to suggest that Azarenka was steering clear of Williams before she tries to defend her Australian Open title and number one ranking. Her record of one win from 11 attempts against Williams doesn’t make for pretty reading.
It gave Williams a walk-through to the final where she met Pavlyuchenkova, who had a more difficult road as she eliminated sixth seed Petra Kvitkova and fourth seed Angelique Kerber en route to the decider.
The 21-year-old will treat her loss to Williams as a learning curve but it was a swift lecture, with Williams taking her record to 4-0 against Pavlyuchenkova and collecting a remarkable 47th career title.
And so onto Melbourne, where Williams will be chasing her sixth Australian Open title and try to reclaim the world number one ranking, which on the evidence of this week is hers in all but statistics.
Her form is so daunting it seems only injury, a horribly bad night or possibly a poor pedicure can stand in her way. Since losing in the first round of the French Open last year, her record is 35-1, including Wimbledon, the US Open and Olympic gold.
To reclaim the top ranking, Williams needs only to reach the Australian Open final. Azarenka needs to reach the final to have a chance of keeping her crown, while Maria Sharapova must play in the semi-finals at least to have any hope.
The Brisbane tournament could have provided a better form guide for Melbourne, with eight of the world’s top 10 women playing. Amazingly, none of them managed to play each other, providing little clue as to who could be the one to stand in front of the Williams freight train.