PERTH (AFP) – World number one Serena Williams says the forecast of extreme heat at the Hopman Cup over the coming days will help her preparation for the upcoming Australian Open.
The American is out to break something of a personal drought at the year’s first Grand Slam, which starts on January 19, having not won the Australian Open since beating Belgium’s Justine Henin in the 2010 final.
The 33-year-old will also be aiming to record her 19th Grand Slam title in Melbourne and move into a clear second behind Steffi Graf’s 22 wins, having joined Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova on 18 when she won the US Open in September.
Williams, who first ascended to the top ranking in women’s tennis back in 2002, arrived in Perth on Saturday ahead of her partnership with John Isner for the United States at the mixed teams Hopman Cup.
Her first singles opponent is world number 12 Flavia Pennetta of Italy on Monday and the temperature is tipped to reach a sweltering 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) on the day.
Williams admitted she was still a little weary after the long flight to Perth but welcomed the forecast heat, saying it would provide good conditioning for the challenges ahead in Melbourne.
“I hear it is going to be really hot,” she said.
“If anything it is going to help for me for Melbourne, I am ready for it.
“Perth is one of the hottest places I have ever played and it will be really good for the preparation for Melbourne, which is always super hot.”
Williams has a fine record at the Hopman Cup, having won the event twice, in 2003 and 2008.
She faces some potentially testing singles matches in the round robin stage this week, with matches against world number seven Eugenie Bouchard and the Canadian’s conqueror on the opening day of the tournament on Sunday, 16th-ranked Lucie Safarova.
“The women’s field is excellent here and I am looking forward to my matches,” she said.
“It is a great time to get match play.”
Contemplating the challenges ahead, Williams said it has never been easy to remain at the top of women’s tennis.
“You never know what is going to happen in a year and I am just happy I was able to remain number one,” she said.
“It all starts over this year and there are so many people coming at me.”