World No.4 and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka (JPN) has confirmed she will start next season at the Brisbane International in January.
Osaka joins world No.1 and French Open champion Ashleigh Barty (Qld) who announced her intention to play Brisbane earlier this year.
Osaka reached the last 16 of the US Open and captured world headlines for the on-court sportsmanship shown towards new tennis sensation “Coco” Gauff during the tournament.
Osaka said being able to acclimatise to the Australian conditions at Brisbane International 2019, helped her win her first grand slam title in Melbourne just weeks later.
“I am really looking forward to returning to Brisbane. I have great memories of my time in the city last year and it set me up for a brilliant summer with my first Australian Open title.”
Ash Barty and I have had a great year, swapping the world number one ranking several times, so it will be a tough start to the 2020 season,” Osaka said.
Osaka is also looking forward to exploring more of South East Queensland in between matches and practice sessions.
“I managed to pack in a lot off-court in Brisbane last visit, like cuddling a koala, patting kangaroos, holding a python. I even had a chance to ride some rollercoasters at a theme park. I can’t wait to do some more sightseeing in January.”
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said Osaka’s decision spoke volumes of the quality of the Brisbane International.
“The summer of tennis will get a warm welcome in sunny Queensland next year as Brisbane hosts the top women’s players in the world,” Ms Jones said.
“Securing world No.4 Naomi Osaka in addition to homegrown hero and world No.1 Ash Barty is a great coup for the Brisbane International and demonstrates the strong reputation this tournament has developed over the years.
“Queensland is a renowned major events host and this one is another ace for the state’s tourism industry, which will benefit from the number of visitors making their way to Brisbane and surrounding regions to see these two champion players and many more start their 2020 season.”
Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the addition of Naomi Osaka to the Brisbane International line-up would attract tennis fans from around the globe.
“The Brisbane International has gone from strength-to-strength and continues to see high-calibre talent such as Naomi Osaka and Ash Barty choose to start their season here,” Cr Schrinner.
“We expect to welcome thousands of tennis fans to Brisbane in 2020, and when they’re not watching the action on the court, our city serves up plenty to see and do for visitors.”
Brisbane International Tournament Director Mark Handley believes the dual between Osaka and Barty over the world No. 1 spot this year will add an extra level of excitement to the event.
“In confirming Naomi, we are excited to announce that the world’s current superstars of women’s tennis will start their 2020 season in Brisbane.
“Much like Ash, Naomi has proven she is a champion on and off the court and we are pleased to give Queensland tennis fans the opportunity to support such fantastic role models,” Handley said.
The WTA Premier Brisbane International will have an increased prize pool and will take place alongside the men’s ATP Cup Brisbane group stage.
Tickets for the Brisbane International are on sale through Ticketmaster