Big names on their way to Hobart
Hobart, 29 November 2007
A record 19 of the world’s top 50 players have signed on for the 2008 Moorilla Hobart International, tournament organisers announced today.
Ukraine’s world No.21 Alona Bondarenko, Russian former top ten player Vera Zvonareva and former champion Michaella Krajicek (NED) headline the strongest field in the tournament’s history.
Russian glamour girl and rising star Maria Kirilenko will make her second appearance at the tournament in 2008 and will be joined by fellow top 30 players Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) and Victoria Azarenka (BLR).
Moorilla Hobart International tournament director Michael Roberts said he was thrilled with the calibre of the line-up.
“We are delighted to be able to showcase the best field ever assembled in Hobart,” said Roberts. “The Moorilla Hobart International has built a reputation for attracting world-class players and 2008 is no exception.
“The tournament always provides a great springboard for players leading up to the Australian Open and the season that follows.
“This was clear in 2007 when Serena Williams went on to win the Australian Open following her appearance in Hobart and champion Anna Chakvetadze proceeded to record her best season on tour and moved to a career-high world No.5.”
The 2008 event is set to build on last year’s momentum when record crowds turned out to see the action live, while more people than ever before also followed the tournament online.
Roberts said fans would again be treated to the tournament’s usual electric atmosphere and exciting on-court action.
“There is such a great mix of young stars and experienced campaigners, which is always a good recipe for gripping tennis.
“It’s great to see Alona Bondarenko back again, but this time as our top seed and at a career-high ranking. It won’t be an easy path for her though with players such as former top 10 Vera Zvonareva and 2006 champion Michaella Krajicek keen to start their years off on a high.”
Entertainment also moves to new heights for the 2008 tournament with Richard Gower, lead singer from the legendary band Racey, performing prior to the final. Racey were know for hits such as "Run Around Sue", "Some Girls" and "Lay Your Love On Me". In 1980 the band's album "Smash 'n' Grab" outsold ABBA and Paul McCartney.
For the first time in Hobart an exciting new doubles format will also be introduced. The No-Advantage scoring rule will be used for all doubles matches, which will mean a deciding point will be played any time a game reaches deuce. There will also be no third sets in doubles matches, rather a 10-point “Super-Tiebreak” will be played.
Ukraine’s Alona Bondarenko will be returning to the tournament for the sixth time and will be looking to outdo her previous best quarterfinal appearance in 2004. The 23 year old collected her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour singles title in 2007 and reached the quarterfinals or better at six other WTA events to record her best season to date.
A quarterfinalist in her only previous appearance in Hobart, Vera Zvonareva is a 23 year old who scaled great heights at a young age. The Russian reached world No.9 as a 19 year old before qualifying for the season-ending Tour championships in 2004. Now on her way back towards the top 10, Zvonareva has won five singles titles on the Tour.
Agnieszka Radwanska made her first appearance in Hobart this year when she was ranked too low for direct acceptance into the main draw. A brilliant 2007 season, in which she collected her first Tour titles in both singles and doubles, saw her rise to a career high world No.25 late this year. The 18-year-old Radwanska will be one to watch at next year’s tournament.
Victoria Azarenka is another teenager making a rapid dash for the world’s top 20. The 18 year old began 2007 ranked world No.92 and by the season’s end was inside the top 30. Her year was highlighted by two finals appearances in Estoril and Tashkent.
Russian Maria Kirilenko is well recognised as one of the glamour girls of the WTA Tour. The face of the adidas by Stella McCartney tennis range, Kirilenko won her second career title at Kolkata in 2007 and is returning to Hobart for the second time.
A sporting superstar at home in India, Sania Mirza will have big expectations in Hobart after upsetting fourth seed Kirilenko on her way to a semifinal showing this year. The Indian, an experienced doubles campaigner, was a runner-up at Stanford this year and also reached semifinals in Pattaya City and Cincinnati.
The tournament will also have a local flavour with Tasmania’s top ranked female Anna Wishink having secured a wildcard into qualifying. Wishink made her first Sony Ericsson WTA Tour appearance at the tournament this year and following a successful season has again been rewarded with a wildcard.