28 October 2016 | Tennis Australia

A trio of two-time major champions will headline the Apia International Sydney women’s field in January.

Defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) and 2015 champion Petra Kvitova (CZE) will join world No.1 Angelique Kerber (GER) in a star-studded draw, which will assemble in Sydney on 8-14 January 2017.

World No.9 Kuznetsova, who ended the fairy-tale run of Olympic champion Monica Puig (PUR) in this year’s final, will return to defend her title after a stunning 2016 season that has seen her return to the world’s top 10.

The 31-year-old, who won the US Open in 2004 and Roland Garros in 2009, was outside the world’s top 20 at the start of the season but a string of strong results, including a second straight title in Moscow last week, saw her re-enter the top 10 and qualify for the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore.

“I am really looking forward to coming back to Sydney next year. I put a lot of effort into my pre-season last year and it paid off coming to Sydney where I played some of my best tennis,” Kuznetsova said.

“It’s always a tough draw but it’s a great tournament, I’ve played there many times and I’m excited to try and defend my title.”

Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, was unable to defend her 2015 title in Sydney this year due to illness but will return in 2017 a fierce challenger.

The current world No.13 has enjoyed a late-season surge in 2016, claiming bronze at the Olympics and winning the WTA Premier event in Wuhan, defeating four top 10 players – including world No.1 Kerber – on her way to the championship.

“Sydney is one of my favourite tournaments and I can’t wait to come back next year,” Kvitova said.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t able to defend the title this year due to illness so I’m excited to get back out onto Ken Rosewall Arena where I’ve had so much success.”

The road to the title will not be easy for Kerber, Kuznetsova or Kvitova, with the women’s field again expected to be stacked with many of the world’s top 30 players.

Puig, this year’s runner-up and Olympic gold medallist, will return looking to go one better in 2017, with 2011 US Open champion and Australian favourite Sam Stosur (Qld), former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) and 2014 Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) also confirmed to play.

Apia International Sydney Tournament Director Alistair MacDonald said the strong line-up once again showed why the women’s event is one of the strongest on the WTA Tour.

“We’re thrilled to once again welcome the world’s best female tennis players to Sydney in January. The women’s event has consistently been one of the most competitive on the WTA Tour and that is reflected in the calibre of athletes that choose to play our event,” MacDonald said.

“We’re incredibly proud to be leading the way when it comes to celebrating and supporting women’s sport, with our financial commitment for the WTA event in 2017 topping $1 million for the second straight year.”

The full women’s and men’s fields will be confirmed in early December.

Apia International Sydney 2017, proudly supported by Apia in association with Peugeot and the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, will take place at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre.

The tournament is part of the Emirates Australian Open Series which also includes the Mastercard Hopman Cup (Perth), Brisbane International, Hobart International and the World Tennis Challenge (Adelaide).

Apia International Sydney single session tickets and series packages are now available. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketek.com.au/booksydney or by calling 1300 888 104.

For further tournament information please visit www.apiainternational.com.au.