One of the busiest and most attention-grabbing weeks of the tennis year has just finished. With players returning from the off-season in need of match practice, the first week of 2013 saw all members of the WTA top ten in action. Most chose to kick-start their Australian Open build-up in Brisbane, but Shenzhen and Auckland also attracted some big names.

Here is a brief rundown of what the WTA top ten achieved last week, and where they stand leading up to the first Grand Slam of the year…

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

The world number one looked in sensational form during her first two matches in Brisbane, defeating the dangerous floater Sabine Lisicki and then thrashing Ksenia Pervak. Unfortunately, a toe infection – apparently the result of a bad pedicure – forced her to pull out of a semi-final against Serena. Azarenka says should be fit and ready to defend her Australian Open title, and the limited match practice shouldn’t be a problem for such a focused player, but if the going gets tough in the early rounds in Melbourne, the injury may become a factor in the latter stages of the tournament.

Maria Sharapova

The French Open champion will be the only top ten player not to have struck a ball competitively before the year’s first Grand Slam, as a collarbone injury forced her out of her only planned warm-up event in Brisbane. The Russian is practising intensively, however, so the ailment appears to have been only a minor setback. Moreover, she didn’t play any lead-up tournaments before last year’s Australian Open, and made it all the way to the final.

Serena Williams

The American legend is the hot pick for the 2013 Australian Open title, and her exploits in Brisbane last week only confirmed her status as the front-runner. Serena charged through all four of her matches without dropping a set, and looked focussed and intense throughout – a worrying sign for her competitors. The younger Williams sister remains favourite to not only win a 16th Grand Slam title, but also recapture the number one ranking.

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Good bye

A bittersweet end of career for Kim Clijsters, beaten by Laura Robson in the second round of the 2012 US Open.

It’s the place that has inspired me so much to do well and to do great things. It’s hard to explain sometimes why.
This completely feels like the perfect place to retire, I just wish it wasn’t today.

She will be remembered for her four Grand Slam titles (US Open in 2005, 2009 and 2010, Australian Open in 2011) and her rivalry with Justine Henin, but first and foremost for her outgoing, friendly personality.

Kim Clijsters

Thanks and good luck for your new life.

Andy Roddick announced his retirement Thursday, saying this US Open would be his final tournament.

I’ve always, for whatever my faults have been, felt like I’ve never done anything halfway. Probably the first time in my career that I can sit here and say I’m not sure that I can put everything into it physically and emotionally. I don’t know that I want to disrespect the game by coasting home. I had plans to play a smaller schedule next year. But the more I thought about it, I think you either got to be all in or not. You know, that’s more kind of the way I’ve chosen to do things.

Roddick is the last American man to win a Grand Slam event, winning the US Open in 2003. But he was unable to add another major championship, mostly because of Roger Federer, who beat Roddick in four Grand Slam finals (2006 US Open, Wimbledon in 2004, 2005 and 2009).

He will meet Fabio Fognini in the third round.

Upsets

Shock second round exit for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, beaten by Martin Klizan, ranked 52nd in the world. Semifinalist at Wimbledon, quarterfinalist at Roland Garros and the Olympics this year, the Frenchman had been expected to meet Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.
Not since the Australian Open in 2007 had Tsonga lost before the third round at a Grand Slam tournament.

Winner in Cincinnati, Li Na – now coached by longtime Henin mentor Carlos Rodriguez – was ousted in the third round by British teenager Laura Robson.
By doing so Robson became the first female British player since Sam Smith in 1998 to reach the last 16 of a major. Next opponent: the defending champion, Sam ‘Shuffle’ Stosur.

Caroline Wozniacki, the 2009 US Open runner-up and a semifinalist in 2010 and 2011, crashed out of the US Open on Tuesday with a first-round loss, falling 6-2 6-2 to Irina Begu. Her ‘excuse’ this time: a right-knee injury.
Earlier this summer at Wimbledon, Wozniacki also lost her first-round match to Tamira Paszek.

Stosur Shuffle

The Petko Dance is so last year…

Stosur Shuffle

I’m sure I looked like a goose. I’m waiting for someone to tell me if it was all right or not.

Defending champion Sam Stosur, will sport a color-block dress in orange, gray and white, with a criss-cross back.

Sam’s shoes, the asics GEL-RESOLUTION 4: