During a conversation with Shahar Pe’er’s coach Pablo Giacopelli a couple of weeks ago he likened the current state of her game to a “hole in the ground.”
He wasn’t kidding.
Pe’er, ranked No. 74 in the world, was thrashed by a player ranked outside the top-100 for the second time in a row on Friday, losing 6-0, 6-4 to Greta Arn (114) in the first round of the Sydney International qualifiers.
Four days earlier, Pe’er also only managed to claim a total of four games in a defeat to world No. 131 Elina Svitolina in the opening round of the Shenzhen Open in China.
“I hope nobody expects miracles because this is going to be a long journey,” Giacopelli insisted at the time. Pe’er also ended her 2012 campaign with six straight defeat and hasn’t won a match since last July. She will be hoping to kick-start the new season at the Australian Open next week at which she has won at least one match in her last three visits.
Meanwhile, 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 warmup for the Australian Open, which begins in Melbourne on January 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 seasonending 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.
“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,” she said.
At Melbourne Park Williams will be chasing her 16th major championship and sixth Australian Open title.
She will start as the clear favorite 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).
Reuters contributed to this report