One of the final stops on tour before the opening grand slam of the year when the Australian Open begins the following week at Melbourne Park, the Hobart International gives players one last opportunity to fine-tune their games before battling it out for a major prize. Feisty Frenchwoman Alize Cornet will return to defend her Hobart crown this year, while reigning French Open semi-finalist Kiki Bertens is set to be the top seed.
Founded back in 1994, the Hobart International is a WTA International tournament that is held at the Hobart International Tennis Centre. Played on outdoor hardcourts, the Hobart International has seen some superstars of tennis grace the main city of Tasmania, with grand slam champions Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova just some of the names who have captured the Hobart silverware over the last decade. Former World No. 1s including Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters have also participated in the event over the years.
No player in the 22-year history of the Hobart International has successfully defended their title, and that will be the task awaiting Alize Cornet as she prepares for a return to Hobart. Cornet, who was once as high as No. 11 in the world back in 2009 but has since fallen to a current mark of 41, has won five WTA titles in her career and has played well in Australia in the past, including winning the Hopman Cup in Perth in 2014.
Powerful Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens will also be a player to watch. Bertens will be targeting a third WTA title and comes into Hobart following a career-best year in 2016, where she reached her maiden major semi-final at Roland Garros, won a title in Nurnberg and finished the season with a ranking of 22. Bertens also played superbly in the IPTL, winning the exhibition event with her team the Singapore Slammers.
Young guns Naomi Osaka and Ana Konjuh are also set to give the tournament a shake. Konjuh made her first grand slam quarter-final at the US Open in 2016, while Osaka’s rapid rise continued late into the season as she backed up three Round of 32 appearances in the slams with a run to the final of Tokyo, where she eventually succumbed to Caroline Wozniacki.
Other notable names in the 2017 Hobart International draw include former World No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, former major finalist Lucie Safarova, along with the likes of Anastasija Sevastova, Monica Niculescu, Misaki Doi and Kristina Mladenovic.
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