Stosur, Kuznetsova headline star-studded Hobart International
ONE of the strongest fields in recent memory has been assembled for next month’s Hobart International — which will also create a historic first.
For the first time in the tournament’s existence two former Grand Slam champions will compete in the same year, with Australian favourite Sam Stosur, pictured, joined by twotime major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, was confirmed as the first drawcard two weeks ago and another tour veteran in Russian Kuznetsova, who owns the 2004 US Open and 2009 French Open crowns among her 18 WTA titles, will line up at the Domain Tennis Centre.
Kuznetsova returns to Hobart for the first time since 2004 when she was an 18-year-old rising star about to her announce herself on the world stage. Now 34, Kuznetsova finished seven consecutive seasons from 2004-2010 ranked inside the top five and after sliding outside the top 100 last year, rebounded in the past 12 months to return to 54 and show her best tennis can still mix it with the top players.
Her 2019 highlights include four top-10 wins, one against world No. 1 Australian Ash Barty to reach the final in Cincinnati. “Having Elise come back as world No. 17, it really strengthens that [the quality of the field],” tournament director Darren Sturgess said.
“We’ve spoken before about this event really showcasing and bringing talent to the fore, but to have her and Sam Stosur and Kuznetsova coming back, that showcases that we are an event that’s more and more appealing on the tour.”
French Fed Cup winning teammates Caroline Garcia, Alize Cornet and Fiona Ferro will also feature at the event, with this year’s top seed Garcia, who partnered with Kristina Mladenovic to clinch the Fed Cup final doubles match against Australia, returning for a second straight year. Cornet, the 2016 Hobart champion, will make her seventh appearance.
Seven players who won WTA titles in 2019 are in the field — spearheaded by the first back to back champion and world No. 17 Elise Mertens — while 11 reached career high season ending rankings.
Elena Rybakina, who will assume the second seeding at the tournament, won the Launceston International title in February to spark a breakout season where she slashed her ranking from 169 to 36.