In the lead-up to the first Grand Slam of the season, the WTA tournament in Hobart has an exciting lineup for fans.
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Two-time Hobart champion Elise Mertens leads the way in Hobart next week. Mertens became the first singles champion to successfully defend her title in 2018.
Having prevailed not only in the singles category, the world no. 17 won the doubles title at Hobart in 2018 with partner Demi Schuurs. With the 16-0 win-loss record at Hobart in both categories, the odds are completely titled in Mertens’ favour.
A special place for the 24-year-old, it was after winning at Hobart for the first time that pushed her to break the top 100 and since then she has ended the year within the top-20 for the past two seasons.
Mertens is the only player ranked within the top 20 at the tournament. The second seed at the tournament is Garbiñe Muguruza who will play her first-round against China’s Wang Yafan.
Muguruza won her first WTA title in 2014 as a qualifier at Hobart ranked at 58 and was awarded a wild card into the tournament. The two-time Grand Slam champion has a win-loss record of 18-12 on hard courts, however, her win at the tournament gives her a competitive edge over the rest of the group.
Hobart will feature an array of past champions, with not only Mertens and Muguruza but also 2016 champion Alize Cornet and 2015 champion Heather Watson who is currently playing her qualifiers match against Nina Stojanović.
In 2015, Hobart became Watson’s second WTA title. Cornet reached the semifinals at the tournament in 2019 and has a 13-14 win-loss record on hard courts over the last season.
In more exciting news, former world no.1 and six-time Grand Slam champion doubles specialist, Sania Mirza will be making her return to tennis in Hobart ahead of the Australian Open.
Defending champion Sofia Kenin will not be returning to Hobart this season. Playing at the Brisbane International early in the week, Kenin lost in the round of 16 against Naomi Osaka.
Fan favourite Samantha Stosur will feature at the tournament from January 11 along with Elena Rybakina, Zhang Shuai and Veronika Kudermetova. Wild cards were awarded to Astra Sharma and Lizette Cabrera.
Ahead of the Australian Open which begins on January 20, the Hobart International is key for players’ performances and their form in the new season.