DEFENDING champions Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic will both return to defend their titles at the Brisbane International in 2018.
Pliskova (pictured), now the world number four who reached number one in July, credits her rise to the top of the rankings with her win in Brisbane in 2017, where she beat Alize Cornet of France in the final 6-0 6-3.
"It was the first tournament of this year and I won it, and then I got a few more titles this year so I think it all started here with my game. I got to world number one so I think Brisbane is where it started," Pliskova says.
Dimitrov, the men's world number eight, went on to reach his current career high ranking after he defeated Kei Nishikori of Japan in the Brisbane final, his first ATP title in more than two years.
"This year was something special to me, I'm not going to lie. I came from a very hard off season and I had to play back-to-back matches against a top 10 player. That meant a lot to me and it gave me a lot of confidence coming into the Australian Open," Dimitrov says.
For Dimitrov, it will be the sixth time he's started his season at the Brisbane International, sponsored by Suncorp, and says he loves playing at the Pat Rafter Arena.
"It's such a humbling arena. So much tennis history behind it and you can feel it and I think people overall appreciate that so much. You as a player you want to do better, you want to improve yourself and you almost don't want to disappoint," he says.
Both players say they look forward to returning to Queensland each year, the tournament of choice for many top 10 players leading into the Australian Open.
"I am the defending champion and I always love to come back to Brisbane. I like the city, it's nice, and we are always staying in the centre of the city so there are a few nice restaurants around and just enjoy the place there," Pliskova added.
"I think the weather is pretty similar to Melbourne so it's just good to - even if I lose my matches there - good to practice there and just prepare for Melbourne."
"I just enjoy it, I love being there. I think the people are great, such good vibes, everybody's so sporty. I can really relate to those towns like Brisbane and Melbourne it just puts you in a good mood, it makes you happy and I'm always excited [to come back]," Dimitrov says.
The announcement of Pliskova and DImitrov follows the news world number one Rafael Nadal of Spain and world number three Andy Murray of Great Britain will start their year in the Sunshine State in 2018.
Tournament Director Geoff Quinlan says nothing speaks volumes about an event like players who request to return year after year, and it's even more significant to have such a high calibre field firming up for the tenth staging of the event in 2018.
"The Brisbane International could receive no greater compliment than having the players wanting to return year after year" Quinlan says.
"Having such a high calibre field is even more significant as we celebrate the tenth year of the Brisbane International.
"We are delighted our 2017 champions are returning to Brisbane to defend their titles. Fans were thrilled by the high quality of tennis displayed by both champions on their way to victory, and it was exciting to see two new names etched on the Brisbane trophies" Quinlan says.
"With Nadal and Murray already confirmed for Brisbane this summer, the return of our defending champions sures up the quality we can expect to see on Pat Rafter Arena come January," he added.
Tourism and Major Events Minister Kate Jones said welcoming the defending champions back to Brisbane would be a major drawcard for tennis fans across the country.
"We are delighted that Dimitrov and Pliskova have chosen to return to the Brisbane International in 2018," she says.
"To have athletes of this calibre back in Brisbane is a real tourism coup for Queensland.
"They are both international drawcards in their own right and having them here will help us prove to a global audience that Brisbane is a premier destination for major sporting events.
"This event is a key highlight on the world-class It's Live! in Queensland major events calendar.
"We hope fans will stay in Queensland after the Brisbane International to enjoy some of the unique and unrivalled tourism experiences we have on offer in the southeast."
The Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, is proud to support Brisbane International 2018 presented by Suncorp as part of the It's Live! in Queensland events calendar, highlighting Australia's best events in spectacular destinations.
Brisbane International multi-session ticket packages go on sale today at midday. All tickets will be on sale from Wednesday 11 October 2017. Please visit Ticketek for more information.
(Karolina Pliskova photo courtesy Tennis Photo Network)
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