Serena Williams defeats Andrea Petkovic at Brisbane International

Serena Williams' first outing of the Australian summer has included an airswing at the net, a dropped earring and a hard-fought win over Germany's Andrea Petkovic.

It was a partly rusty, slightly erratic but ultimately successful beginning to the world number one's Brisbane International defence, in which she ran into a dangerous customer in Petkovic before carving out a 6-4 6-4 victory to move safely into the quarter-finals.

Williams has enjoyed early cakewalks in the past but Petkovic, the current world number 43 and former world number nine, was always going to be made of slightly sterner stuff.

She gave Williams some torrid periods during the contest before the American flexed her muscle to set up a quarter-final in the New Year with Dominika Cibulkova.

“It was an intense match, which was really good. She's a good player. She's been in the top 10 before and she was on her way to being even better. It was a good match for me,” Williams said.

It didn't unfold without a few hiccups, which included an airswing as Williams tried to tap over an awkward spinning ball that seemed to leap back over the net after some wicked spin.

“Honestly, she barely touched the ball and it went back,” Williams said. "It kind of bounced back. No chance to get it.

"It was just one of those shots that you hope to hit but you hope never to be on the receiving end of."

After consecutive Australian campaigns that have been hobbled by ankle injuries, Williams wasn't tempting fate, sporting extra strapping on both feet as she tries to progress to Melbourne Park in one piece.

There are no niggles on either foot and she admitted part of the extra padding was for her peace of mind as much as the stability of the joints.

“I always tape them pretty high but I put extra wraps on them today. I told my physio 'let's do some extra ones'. I don't want anything to happen. Please,” Williams said.

“I think it is [partly mental]. But at the same time, it definitely wasn't mental when I took those falls and my ankle was like this big. I just don't want that anymore.”

At 32, Williams comes off a mind-boggling 2013, in which he compiled a 78-4 record, went on a 34-match winning streak, collected two Grand Slams (French, US Open), banked a record $US12 million and became the oldest women's number one in history.

Still, she insists there's more to do in 2014, a year where she could continue to defy her age and go on to dominate the women's game once again.

“You know, I had a similar question in 2012. I had such a good year winning two slams and a gold and two doubles. It was a lot,” Williams said.

“You know, I just didn't think I could do better. You know, arguably I may have done better, so I'm just going to be up for that challenge again. If not, absolutely nothing to complain about.”

As for New Year's revelry, Williams had everyone believe she would be spending a cosy night indoors.

“Well, I don't celebrate New Year's Eve, so usually I'm in bed at midnight,” she said.

“I plead the fifth.”

Earlier in the day, Australian Matt Ebden booked a second round meeting with Japan's Kei Nishikori after brushing aside lucky loser, American Alex Kuznetsov, 6-3 6-4 in 72 minutes.

In other matches, sixth seed Feliciano Lopez has set up a potential second-round clash with Australian Lleyton Hewitt. Lopez out-muscled Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets 6-4 6-4 to progress to the second round.

Frenchman Nicolas Mahut had to fight back from a set down against Igor Sijsling before eventually claiming the match 3-6 6-4 6-4. He will play either eighth seed Jeremy Chardy or Adrian Mannarino.

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