Australia’s leading male player and world No.21 Nick Kyrgios (ACT) joins the Sunshine State’s own and world No.23 Ashleigh Barty (QLD) as the first Australians to sign on for the 2018 Brisbane International presented by Suncorp.
The pair were announced by Queensland’s Minister for Tourism and Major Events Kate Jones in a press conference at the Queensland Tennis Centre today, attended by 21-year-old Barty.
“It feels great to be announcing I’m playing Brisbane this summer,” said Barty.
“It’s a tournament I’ve always enjoyed playing, especially in front of friends and family. When you play against the best players in the world, it helps to have the advantage of being at home and the support of the local crowd on your side.”
Barty will start the season on home soil after a break-through year on tour which saw her race xx spots up the rankings ladder to just one place behind Australia’s No.1 female and world No.22 Daria Gavrilova. Results made even more remarkable considering in May last year Barty was without a single world ranking point after taking time off to play cricket.
“It’s been an amazing season, it really has. I was very motivated and worked very hard last year to get back to where we are now,” said Barty in China last week.
The 21-year-old, who trains at the Queensland Tennis Centre, made her WTA debut at the Brisbane International in 2012, and earlier this year took then world No.1 Angelique Kerber to three sets on Pat Rafter Arena in the second round of the tournament.
“I’ve had some great matches here in previous years and I’m excited to come back and do it all again in 2018.”
For No.1 Aussie Kyrgios, 2018 marks his debut at the Brisbane event. However the 22-year-old is no stranger to playing on Pat Rafter Arena, after leading Australia to a 3-2 win over the USA in April’s Davis Cup tie in front of an ecstatic stadium.
“Every year it [the Brisbane International] looks unbelievable.
“I’ve always wanted to play. I played Davis Cup there a couple of months ago and have great memories of it so I want to go back there and try and ignite that crowd, play on Centre Court and just get a chance to be part of that great event.”
Kyrgios has previously trained in Brisbane, including during his preparation for last year’s Hopman Cup.
“I love Brisbane. I spend a lot of time there training and I feel comfortable around that event and around that tennis court. I’ve practiced a lot on Centre Court and played a couple of big Davis Cup matches there so I feel really comfortable there.
“I think that’s exactly what you want leading into the Australian Open.”
Tournament Director Geoff Quinlan says it’s beyond exciting to have two of Australian’s most exciting players in the line-up for Brisbane.
“Nick and Ash are two of the most talented and exciting players on tour at the moment, and both have a special bond with Brisbane, in particular Pat Rafter Arena” Tournament Director Geoff Quinlan said.
“Ash Barty is having an exceptional year and is sure to be a hit in front of a home crowd.
“Nick is also a player Brisbane came to love earlier this year when he lead Australia’s win over the USA in the Davis Cup with some of his signature heart-filled tennis.”
In a field which already includes world No.1 Rafael Nadal (ESP), world No.3 Andy Murray (GBR), and both defending champions Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) and Karolina Pliskova (CZE), the tenth edition of the Brisbane event is firming as the strongest yet.