Rising star Destanee Aiava (Vic) and her in-form compatriot Ajla Tomljanovic (Qld) will compete in the main draw of the 2018 Brisbane International presented by Suncorp after being awarded wildcards.
The pair will join fellow Australians Ash Barty (Qld) and Sam Stosur (Qld) at the tenth edition of the tournament, which gets underway at Queensland Tennis Centre on Sunday 31 December.
Aiava was a breakthrough talent in Brisbane last year, qualifying for the main draw before registering her first WTA victory in the first round by beating fellow qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) in three sets.
Since then, Aiava’s star has continued to rise, culminating in her call-up to Australia’s Fed Cup squad in April. The 17-year-old is currently ranked 154th in the world, having started the 2017 season as the world No.386 – a sure sign of her rapid progress.
Last week, Aiava defeated Tammi Patterson in the final of the Australian Open play-off, earning her a second consecutive Grand Slam appearance at the 2018 Australian Open, where she debuted as the youngest player in the main draw earlier this year.
“I’m excited to get back to Brisbane, it’s a great opportunity for me to progress my career and I’d like to thank Tennis Australia for giving me the wildcard,” said Aiava.
“I’ll always remember my first win on the WTA in Brisbane, and hopefully I can go even further in the tournament this time.”
Tomljanovic has also enjoyed a stellar season, having recovered from the shoulder injury which hampered much of her 2016 campaign.
The 24-year-old ended 2016 as the world No.930, and has since leapt 812 places to world No.118 after a season that saw her reach the third round in Miami, the second round at the US Open and two ITF finals.
“I’m obviously really happy to get the wildcard,” said Tomljanovic.
“I’ve done a few pre-seasons in Brisbane, I love it here and I’m really looking forward to the tournament. It’s a great way for me to start the season, and the way I played this year I’m really excited about what 2018 may bring.
“I’d love to get into the top 100 by March 2018, and getting off to a good start in Brisbane will help me achieve that. But the main goal is to stay healthy, I’m feeling good right now and hopefully that continues.”
“Destanee is a rising star of women’s tennis in Australia, she is an exciting talent and has made great progress over the past 12 months since making her breakthrough in Brisbane, so I’m sure the best is yet to come,” said Cameron Pearson, Tournament Director of the Brisbane International.
“Ajla has fought back from injury and shown what a quality player she is this year, so we’re excited to see her back in action in Brisbane, where she will complement what is already a strong line-up.”