Cairns QLD, Australia, 18 September 2018 | Asher Packman

Top seed and reigning champion Olivia Rogowska has returned to the Cairns Tennis International in a buoyant frame of mind.

“It’s good to be back,” she said. “It’s one of my favourite places.”

After a stellar run during the 2017/18 Australian Pro Tour, which netted the 26-year-old Victorian three titles, Rogowska is hoping to repeat her performance.

“I got a lot of matches last year which is always a good sign, it means you’re going deep in tournaments,” she said. “It set off the start of my year really well.”

Currently sitting at world No.162, Rogowska has endured a stop-start season in 2018 since the Pro Tour but now feels fully prepared for the upcoming swing.

“I was battling a couple of health issues, probably because I was pushing my body to the brink a bit too much,” she said. “That was a rough time for me because I was playing some really good tennis but my body wasn’t allowing me to compete at the level I wanted to.

“But I ended up getting that all sorted and this last month or so I have been feeling back to my old self mentally and physically. I’m ready to get going again.

“There’s no denying that I have a lot of my ranking points to defend but I’m trying not to think about that too much, just control what I can, take it match by match and keep fighting hard.”

Standing in wait for Rogowska in Cairns is Ukrainian qualifier Mariana Zakarlyuk, with a potential second round clash with Canberra’s Alison Bai beyond that.

“Qualifiers are always tough, but I’ll be ready,” Rogowska said.

No.8 seed Kimberly Birrell also lurks in her section of the draw, with a quarterfinal match-up in the offing.

Destanee Aiava will also pose a threat to the title, with the No.3 seed playing wildcard Isabella Bozicevic in the opener. She may need to overcome seventh seed Abbie Myers if she is to reach the last four and a potential opportunity to face Rogowska.

Japanese second seed Eri Hozumi leads the charge at the other end of the draw, with Aussies Astra Sharma (No.4) and Zoe Hives (No.6) – who both tasted singles title success last season – no doubt pushing hard to stake their claim.

Main draw play continues on Monday at the Cairns International Tennis Club.

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