See tomorrow's stars today at 2005 Moorilla International
January 7th-14th, 2005 at Domain Tennis Centre, Hobart
Above - 15 year-old Nicole Vaidisova from the Czech Republic is just one of the many young tennis talents that will play the Moorilla International in 2005.
Tasmanian tennis fans will once again be able to see the best young tennis talent this summer, with many up-and-coming stars among the high-quality field for the 2005 Moorilla International it was announced today. Eleven of the world’s top 50 players have signed up to play Tasmania’s biggest annual women’s sporting event, which will take place at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart from 7 – 14 January 2005.
Leading the field is world No.26 Amy Frazier of America, who will be back to defend the title she won in 2004. Frazier will be competing at the Moorilla International for the seventh consecutive time having reached at least the quarterfinal stage each year. At 31 years, three months and 28 days, Frazier set the record for the oldest player to win a WTA Tour title in 2004 and, following her win in Hobart, she went on to finish at No.26 in the world having begun the year ranked 60.
If she is to re-capture her Moorilla International crown, Frazier must overcome fierce competition from a host of talented seeded and unseeded players. Interestingly the tournament has been won by unseeded players for the last four consecutive years (Grande-2001, Sucha-2002, Molik-2003, Frazier-2004).
Second seed will be world No.33 Gisela Dulko from Argentina, who at only 19 recorded three victories over top 10 players in 2004 (Elena Dementieva, Ai Sugiyama and Svetlana Kuznetsova). Dulko also notched up two career-best Grand Slam results in 2004, reaching the third round of the French Open (defeating former Grand Slam winners Martina Navratilova and Conchita Martinez) and Wimbledon (defeating world No. 25 Jelena Dokic).
A semi-finalist in Hobart two years ago, Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic will be hoping her success in 2004 will continue in 2005. The 21-year-old left-hander won her first career WTA Tour title in Acapulco, becoming the first qualifier to win a Tour title since reigning US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2002. Benesova also reached the final at Forest Hills and in November reached a career-high ranking of No.36.
2002 Moorilla International finalist, Anabel Medina Garrigues of Spain will be another player returning to the familiar surroundings of Hobart to kick-start her year. Reaching a career-high ranking late in 2004 (No. 39 as at 1 November), Garrigues added two titles to her collection this year at Palermo and Marseille (ITF circuit) as well as reaching the third round of the Australian Open (losing to Frenchwoman Amelie Mauresmo).
Above - Defending Champion, Amy Frazier (left) will be playing in her seventh consecutive Moorilla International. 19 year-old Argentinian, Gisela Dulko (right) will be playing in Hobart for the first time.
18-year-old Dinara Safina (No.44)
, younger sister of world No.4 Marat Safin, will be playing her first ever Moorilla International after three years on the tour. The 182cm tall Russian reached the final of Luxembourg (going down to Australia’s Alicia Molik) and the semifinals of Paris (defeating world No.16 Patty Schnyder and No.18 Francesca Schiavone).
Also in contention for the title is Czech Republic player Klara Koukalova (No.46)
and crowd favourite Kristina Brandi of Puerto Rico
(No.48). Brandi, a veteran now at 26 years of age, reached the semifinals of both the singles and doubles of the Moorilla International in 2004 and after ploughing through an injury-plagued 2002, Brandi will be aiming to continue her climb back to her career-high ranking of No.27 (achieved in December 2000).
"The Moorilla International has certainly established itself as one of the premier international sporting events in Tasmania," said Tennis Australia President, Geoff Pollard.
"The picturesque surrounds, relaxed atmosphere and outstanding support the event receives from Tasmania’s sports fans each year are just a few reasons why many players see the Moorilla International as ideal preparation for the Australian Open."
The 32 players will be competing for a total prizepool of US$110,000
and new Tournament Director, Michael Roberts believes the tournament is wide-open for anyone to win.
"We’re thrilled with the standard of the Moorilla International field for 2005. With 11 players from inside the world’s top 50 set to compete at Hobart – up from eight in 2004 - tennis fans will see first-class action from day one," said Roberts.
Above - Russian World No.44, Dinara Safina (sister of Marat Safin) will be hoping to add to her list of impressive performances in 2004 at the Moorilla International in January.
"The Moorilla International has always prided itself on being a tournament for players that want to get away from the bigger cities of Sydney and the Gold Coast to prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year," he said. "We also give the players an opportunity to arrive in Melbourne a day earlier with the singles final played on Friday night." The night final has proved extremely popular with spectators and players, selling out the past two years.
"The Domain Tennis Centre overlooks the glorious Hobart waterfront with views that would be on par with some of the most glamorous cities around the world. And with the official hotel and CBD only a five minutes drive away, players find the tournament surrounds and set-up very convenient. "Spectators at the Moorilla International are so close to the action and can enjoy ticket prices for all sessions that would be the most cost-effective anywhere in Australia for a major event," he said.
The Moorilla International is now in its 12th year and has seen former Belgium world No.1’s Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters compete in Hobart on their way to the top of the rankings. The 2003 event also saw talented Russian Vera Zvonareva (current world No.11) and eventual winner Alicia Molik (No.13) of Australia compete. The event has proven year after year that it gives spectators the opportunity to see tomorrow’s stars today.
As Tasmania’s biggest women’s sporting event, the Moorilla International forms part of the Road to the Australian Open, an 11-event lead-in to Australian Open 205 embracing tournaments in the Asia/Pacific region.