Brisbane International returning as Australian Open warm-up event
The Brisbane International is back among the tournaments scheduled ahead of next year's Australian Open along with the mixed teams United Cup in Sydney and Perth before the fist Grand Slam event of the year in Melbourne.
Former world No. 1 players Pat Rafter and Ash Barty lauded the return of their hometown event at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Friday that will see an expanded 32-player field in men's and women's singles.
The Australian Open lead-up event had been a big success between 2009-2019, with huge crowds on both Pat Rafter Arena and outside courts watching as Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova all won Brisbane titles.
The men's ATP Cup was then introduced and the Brisbane International was contested as a women's event in 2020, before last year's mixed teams United Cup debuted.
Barty endorsed the move to reinstate Brisbane as a separate event from Dec. 31-Jan. 7, but was adamant it would not lure her out of retirement now that she's a mother to son Hayden with her husband Garry Kissick.
"It's the very first week of the calendar, the players love to come here, love the atmosphere," she said. "But I'm absolutely loving every single second (of being a mother)."
The Australian season will begin on Dec. 29 with the mixed teams United Cup in Perth and Sydney in a streamlined event after Brisbane also hosted two group stages last year.
The Adelaide International — like Brisbane a WTA 500 and ATP 250 tournament — will follow from Jan. 8-13 while the Hobart International (WTA 250) will again be held.
Australian summer of tennis
United Cup: Group stages Dec. 29-Jan. 5, Perth (RAC Arena), Sydney (Ken Rosewall Arena); Finals Jan. 6-7.
Brisbane International: Dec. 31-Jan. 7
Adelaide International: Jan. 8-13
Hobart International: Jan. 8-13
Australian Open qualifying: Jan. 8-12, Melbourne Park
Australian Open: Jan. 15 -28, Melbourne Park
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