Hobart, Tasmania, 19 December 2012 | Tennis Australia

Germany’s Mona Barthel will return to Hobart in 2013 to defend her first WTA title at Domain Tennis Centre from 4-12 January 2013.

The 22-year-old made her mark on the women’s tour in January when as a qualifier she advanced through the draw to defeat top seed Yanina Wickmayer in last year’s final.

“I had a great week here. It was perfect for me, it couldn’t be better… I reached so much here,” Barthel said after she won the title in January.

“I like the courts. It’s helped my game a lot. Everybody is really nice and the fans were really great and supported me throughout the week. I would love to come back to defend my title.”

Following the win, the right-hander went on to reach the third round of Australian Open 2012, losing to eventual winner and current world No.1 Victoria Azarenka.

Last season also saw Barthel peak at world No.31, reach two WTA semifinals and represent her country at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The German native will face stiff competition in Hobart from Yaroslava Shvedova, WTA Comeback Player of the Year 2012.

The 25-year-old from Kazakhstan had a breakthrough season in 2010, when she reached a career-high ranking of No.29 and won two Grand Slam doubles titles before undergoing knee surgery.

Shvedova made a run for it again in 2012, starting the year as world No.206, before setting a new career-high ranking of No.25 and finishing the year at No.29.

Already the first Kazakh to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam in 2010 Shvedova did it again this year, defeating the defending champion Li Na in the fourth round of Roland Garros before falling to Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals.

Shvedova went on to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon, losing a close one to eventual champion Serena Williams. Before that, however, she had a 6-0 6-4 win over Sara Errani in the third round, the first set being a “golden” set – a set in which she did not lose a point – to become the first woman in the Open Era to achieve such a feat.

“I am very happy and proud of my comeback this year. I worked very hard with my team to do this,” said Shvedova when she received her award in November.

“My biggest highlight was making a golden set. That is probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing and something only one other person has done, so it will always be very special.

“I’m not done yet! I’m going to keep working hard and my goal is to be top 20 in singles.”

Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will also be looking to improve on her 2009 quarterfinal result in Hobart when she returns to the tournament in the new year.

The 21-year-old saw some early success in her career as a junior, winning the 2006 Australian Open junior event, overcoming current world No.10 Caroline Wozniacki before winning the US Open juniors and going on to defend her title again at the Australian Open juniors in 2007.

In 2011 the Russian cracked the top 20, reaching world No.13 after she won her third WTA title in Monterrey, Mexico.

Last year she also reached the semifinals of the Brisbane International and made the quarterfinals at Roland Garros and the US Open. This year her best result was a finals berth in Washington, DC in August.

“These top female athletes are an exciting addition to our player line-up and we look forward to welcoming them to Hobart,” said Mark Handley, tournament director at the Moorilla Hobart International.

“Each of these athletes have had impressive results to date and we hope the tournament will give them a opportunity to add to these. The list of players indicates the competitiveness of our field this year as the event continues to grow.”

Moorilla Hobart International 2013 series packages and single sessions are on sale now with ticket prices starting from $8.90.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketek.com.au or 1300 888 104. For further tournament information visit www.hobartinternational.com.au.

Confirmed starters for the Moorilla Hobart International 2013

Player Country  Ranking 
Su-Wei Hsieh TPE 25
Sorana Cirstea ROU 27
Yaroslava Shvedova KAZ 29
Francesca Schiavone ITA 35
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova RUS 36
Mona Barthel GER 39
Vera Zvonareva (qualifying draw) RUS 97