DUAL Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka (BLR) and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic (SRB) will join the battle for the Evonne Goolagong Trophy at Brisbane International in 2015.
The two former world No.1s have confirmed their entry into this summer’s event alongside five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova (RUS) and 2011 US Open title-holder Sam Stosur (Qld).
Their entry into the field takes the number of Grand Slam champions set to descend on Brisbane in January to seven, with the four female champions to be joined by 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer (SUI), two-time major winner Lleyton Hewitt (SA) and 2014 US Open victor Marin Cilic (CRO) in the blockbuster field.
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Azarenka will return to the scene of her first ever career singles title when she arrives in Brisbane in January. The 25-year-old, who was sidelined for much of the 2014 season by a persistent foot injury, will use this summer’s tournament to launch her charge back up the world rankings.
“Brisbane has always been a very special tournament for me after winning the title there in 2009. I feel very at home in Brisbane, there’s a great atmosphere, the crowd is always a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to competing there again this summer,” she said.
“I know it’s going to be a very strong field and give me the best possible start to the new season. For me, winning the title in front of a full house at Pat Rafter Arena would be the perfect start to 2015 and I’ll be doing my best to make that happen.
“My 2014 season was a little disrupted due to injury so I can’t wait to get the new year under way and climb my way back up the rankings, starting in Brisbane in January.”
Azarenka won the event’s inaugural women’s singles title in 2009, collecting the first major trophy of her career, and finished runner-up to Serena Williams (USA) in 2014.
Ivanovic, the current world No.5, will return to Brisbane for a fourth time next year following a successful season on tour. The 27-year-old has scooped WTA Tour titles in Auckland, Monterrey and Birmingham in 2014 to rocket back inside the world’s top 10.
“I can’t wait to return to Brisbane next year, it will be my first time competing at the tournament since 2012 and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to play there again,” she said.
“I’ve had some dramatic matches in Brisbane, the field is always strong and the fans make it a lot of fun. Next year will be a big challenge with the high class field, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Ivanovic’s best result in Brisbane to date came in 2010, when she charged to the semi-finals before losing to Justine Henin (BEL).
Brisbane International 2015 will be held at Queensland Tennis Centre from 4 to 11 January. For all tournament information and tickets please visit brisbaneinternational.com.au.