Fresh from her stunning US Open win earlier this month against 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams, world No.7 Naomi Osaka has announced that she will be kicking off 2019 at the Brisbane International.
Osaka's US Open triumph marked not only her first Grand Slam title, but the first Grand Slam singles title to ever be won by a Japanese player.
She looks forward to hitting the courts at Brisbane in a few months' time.
"I'm excited about starting my 2019 Australian season in Brisbane. I have been there before and have great memories of the city and playing there," says Osaka.
"Since winning the US Open, I've had lots of messages of support from Australia so it will be special to play at Pat Rafter Arena in January."
After turning pro at age 15, Osaka has since won two Women's Tennis Association singles titles including the prestigious Indian Wells tournament in March 2018.
The Japanese superstar will be joined in the Pat Rafter Arena by fellow countryman Kei Nishikori, the current world No.12 who recently reached the US Open semi-finals before falling to the eventual tournament champion Novak Djokovic.
Kei Nishikori at the Brisbane International
January will mark Nishikori's ninth Brisbane International, a tournament which he regards as one of his favourite events on the calendar.
"I have good memories from there. I always play good tennis there. It's the first tournament of the year and they have a good crowd, good city and a very good site. Everything is perfect there," he says.
Nishikori has won 11 singles titles on the ATP Tour and is the only male Japanese player ever to be ranked inside the top five in singles.
Brisbane International tournament director Cameron Pearson says he is delighted that Osaka and Nishikori will add to an already star-studded lineup at the tournament including Rafael Nadal and John Millman.
"To have Naomi return to Brisbane after her breakthrough Grand Slam victory is such a coup for the Brisbane International," says Pearson.
"She won so many new fans by the way she played the US Open final and we know she will deliver more fantastic performances here in Queensland.
"Kei loves coming to Brisbane and has provided the fans with some memorable matches over the years. He has always had great results without winning the title, so perhaps 2019 will be Kei's year."
The Brisbane International tournament will take place between 31 December 2018 and 6 January 2019.Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
Help us deliver quality journalism to you.
As a free and independent news site providing daily updates
during a period of unprecedented challenges for businesses everywhere
we call on your support