FIVE of the world's top ten tennis players will open their 2017 campaigns at the Brisbane International, presented by Suncorp, this January.
More than 100,000 people are expected at the week-long event, to see if the world's fourth-ranked player Milos Raonic (pictured) can defend his title.
"I can't wait to return to Brisbane in January. I played some of my best tennis to beat Roger (Federer) in the final last time, and enjoyed playing in front of such a great crowd who clearly love their tennis," says Raonic.
His challengers will include Japan's Kei Nishikori (No.5), Spain's nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal (No.8) and Sweden's Stan Wawrinka (No.4).
Austrian young gun Dominic Thiem (8th) impressed last year and will return to improve upon his semi-final appearance. The line-up also includes Australians Bernard Tomic (No.23), Sam Stosur (No.21) and John Millman.
"We're thrilled with the field, we have five of the top 10 men, including Rafael Nadal, a truly iconic player," says tournament director Geoff Quinlan.
"To see Rafa here in Brisbane, on Australian soil, in the first weeks of the New Year, is exciting."
The Brisbane crowd has built a close relationship with Roger Federer over the past three tournaments, and although he won't return, Quinlan is confident that the people will line up to see a player of Nadal's calibre, alongside the next generation of leading players.
World No.1 Angelique Kerber (GER), and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza (ESP) have signed up on the women's side of the draw.
Kerber began her season in Brisbane last year, then went on to win the Australian and US Opens and secure the world number one ranking.
It is players such as Federer, Raonic and Kerber, that has helped the Brisbane International grow into one of Queensland, and Australia's premier sports events over the past six years.
The event is screened into 100 territories worldwide, garnering 6,000 global broadcast hours, with 21 million hours viewed, predominantly in the United States, Japan and Spain. In Australia, the tournament gets 70 broadcast hours and 12.5 million viewing hours.
The international event attracts visitors from across the world, while giving locals the once-a-year opportunity to see the world's best tennis players live. The atmosphere is electric.
"That is an important facet of the event," says Quinlan.
"The players love to come here because they are in front of a packed Australian audience and they know that it is a well-educated audience.
Corporate support has been strong, and the event has sustained a renewal rate between 50-60 per cent in some facilities.
There are several options for corporate clients, ranging from the exclusive Champions Suite to the indoor, air conditioned Corporate Suites, and the popular courtside corporate boxes.
The event's success has led the Queensland Government to renew its support for a further five years. Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Kate Jones, says the Brisbane International has become a must-see event.
"It brings significant exposure to Queensland as one of the first international tournaments of the tennis year, as well as attracting many locals who get to compete in front of a home crowd," says Jones.
Brisbane International 2017, presented by Suncorp and supported by Tourism and Events Queensland, will be held at Queensland Tennis Centre from 1 to 8 January.
There are two sessions on each weekday, with the second starting late enough for workers to catch some evening tennis action.
The tournament is part of the Emirates Australian Open Series, which also incorporates Hopman Cup (Perth), Apia International Sydney, Hobart International and World Tennis Challenge (Adelaide).
For your chance to win an 8 seat Corporate Box at Brisbane International 2017 on January 3, simply tell us the name of the World No. 1 German who has signed on for the women's draw.
Email your answer, name and contact details with Brisbane International in the subject header to [email protected].
Entries close EOB Thursday 15 December. Travel expenses to Brisbane not included.
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