DEFENDING men’s champion Lleyton Hewitt, Gold Coaster Samantha Stosur (Qld), reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova and rising star Grigor Dimitrov have today announced they will hit the court at the Brisbane international 2015.
Tournament Director Cameron Pearson announced the latest names to have signed to the event at today’s official tournament launch.
Hewitt, who defeated Federer in three sets to claim the Roy Emerson trophy in 2014, will return to Queensland Tennis Centre in January with his sights set on back-to-back titles.
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“I really enjoy starting my year in Brisbane, it’s such a great tournament that traditionally has a strong line-up of players. I had a good win against Roger in the final earlier this year and I hope I can repeat that success in 2015,” Hewitt said.
“The fans in Brisbane are great and always turn out to show their support for the players, so I’ll be looking forward to getting back to Brisbane with the memories of winning last year.”
Hewitt will face at least four men ranked inside the world’s top 10 when he steps out in defence of his title, including the fast-moving Dimitrov who has climbed from world No.23 at last year’s event to now sit at No.10.
In a breakthrough season Dimitrov has this year contested the Australian Open quarterfinals and Wimbledon semifinals, cementing his arrival on the world stage.
The 23-year-old will travel to Brisbane determined to add his name to the tournament honour roll.
“To me, the ultimate goal is to win it. I love the tournament and I definitely want to win it one day and why not next year?” Dimitrov said.
“I’m always positive coming out to a tournament and I think one of the reasons I’m entering any event I play is to win it and this tournament is certainly on my list.
“It’s going to be my third time [competing in Brisbane] and it’s definitely a tournament I remember, it was one of my first big breakthrough tournaments and I’m always excited to get out there.
“I’ve played quite a few matches and actually a few night matches and the crowd has always been a full house and always been really supportive, they appreciate good tennis and that’s one of the nicest things as an athlete and as a player and you’re just always really excited to get out there and perform on that court.”
Reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova will start one of the hot favourites for the women’s title, the world No.4 and five-time Grand Slam winner again choosing to start her year in the Sunshine State.
“Brisbane is such a great tournament, I’ve tried to make it so many years and I finally made it in 2014 and it was such a great experience. The fans were wonderful and the tournament organisation was great,” Sharapova said.
“You go to the tournament wanting to succeed and win it. This summer was a great result for me after not playing for a few months and I certainly look forward to coming back and doing better next year.”
The 27-year-old hopes a bumper crowd will again turn out at Pat Rafter Arena this summer and promised fans a great day out.
“Pat Rafter Arena is very unique, it’s very intimate. I feel like every fan gets a great perspective on the sport and the athletes and that’s very important when they’re in their seat, [that] they can see everything. I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the house really, the venue is great and I feel if I was a fan it’s a tournament I would want to go to and watch,” she said.
Sharapova will be joined in the women’s draw by Aussie favourite Sam Stosur, who will start her new season competing in front of family and friends.
“It’s a wonderful tournament in Brisbane, I’ve played there many times before and I just wanted to go back to play at home this year and play in front of lots of family and friends and a great Brisbane crowd, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said the world No.21.
“It’s fun to play in front of a home crowd, I grew up not too far from those tennis courts… so it’s a nice opportunity to get that time to be at home and be there playing in front of a lot of people I knew when I was growing up.”
Brisbane International 2015 will be held at Queensland Tennis Centre from 4 to 11 January. For more information, visit brisbaneinternational.com.au