Gold Coasters Sam Stosur and Ben Mitchell headline a Queensland double on Monday night as both look to ride a wave of home support past opening-round hurdles at this year’s Brisbane International.
Stosur, the tournament’s seventh seed, will square off against Swede Sofia Arvidsson, an opponent she hasn’t faced since her title run at the 2011 US Open. If she can repeat the result it will be a good omen for the Australian, who has never gone on to win a tour title on home turf.
The Swede has beaten Stosur just once – their first encounter eight years ago – and she will be well aware the Grand Slam champion she meets across the net on Tuesday night is vastly improved.
For wildcard Ben Mitchell, the task will be altogether more difficult as he enters his showdown with crowd-pleasing Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis a heavy underdog, the pair separated by 290 places in the rankings.
Having practised extensively with the arena’s namesake, Pat Rafter, and as a recent winner of the Australian Open Playoff, the 20-year-old has done all in his power to maximise his chances of progressing beyond Round 1 for the first time.
Glamorous German Sabine Lisicki, the 2011 Wimbledon semifinalist, will open proceedings on Day 2 against Czech leftie Lucie Safarova, with the duo’s head-to-head tied at one-apiece.
Safarova, at a career-high 17th in the rankings, will hope to carry the form, which allowed her to sweep past Serbians Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic in 2012’s Fed Cup final. Her pair of straight-sets victories helped the Czech team successfully defend the team competition before a jubilant home crowd.
Danish eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki makes her Brisbane debut in the second match on Pat Rafter Arena and will be wary of diminutive Kazakh qualifier Ksenia Pervak, having been extended to three sets in both previous encounters.
The final match of the day session features Australian wildcard Marinko Matosevic – a player who surged from outside the top 200 to become the nation’s highest-ranked player by year’s end at 49th – taking on Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori.
Nishikori, who also enjoyed a career-best year in 2012, reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and captured a title at home in Tokyo to help him finish the year inside the top 20.