30 December 2023 | Jackson Mansell

High-profile players and a string of rising stars, including many Australians, will take to the court for the new-look Workday Canberra International 2024.

The combined WTA 125 and ATP Challenger tournament is elevated in 2024, with the prize pool rising to USD $320,00 and increased rankings points on offer.

A prominent feature of the Australian Pro Tour calendar, the tournament has attracted over 100 players from more than 40 nations in 2024, including five top-100 ATP players and six top-100 ranked women.

Western Australian Astra Sharma will lead a strong Australian contingent in the women’s field at the tournament, which begins at the Canberra Tennis Centre on Sunday.

The 28-year-old brings some impressive form into the event. Sharma’s 2023 season saw her reach five finals at WTA and ITF tournaments.

Winning two of those finals, Sharma’s biggest scalp came in the final of the WTA 125 tournament at Bucharest in September. After losing the first set to former world No.5 Sara Errani 6-0, Sharma rallied to take home the silverware.

Sharma, currently ranked world No.124, also defeated seven-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist Kaia Kanepi at Sweden in June. She defeated the former world No.15 in the quarterfinal of the W40 tournament in Ystad, subsequently progressing to her first final for 2023.

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Sharma will be joined in the main draw in Canberra by 18-year-old Taylah Preston who dominated the ITF circuit in her debut year. Preston won four ITF titles in 2023, including three of her last six tournaments.

The West Australian claimed her first ITF title in Tunisia in May against Czech Gabriela Knutson, before winning three trophies on home soil. Her second tournament victory came in her hometown of Perth, where she upset No.1 seed and fellow Australian Priscilla Hon in the semifinals.

A third-round finish in the Wimbledon 2023 girls’ singles tournament was among other stellar results for Preston, who was named Female Junior Athlete of the Year for the third consecutive year at the 2023 Australian Tennis Awards.

Former top 10 player Alicia Molik has high praise for the world No.202. “She’s a real fighter,” Molik said. “She’s just outside the top 200, so that’s pretty impressive the year she’s had. It’s blown me away actually.”

Emerson Jones, co-winner of the 2023 Female Junior Athlete of the Year award. will also contest the Workday Canberra International. Ranked world No.11 in the junior rankings, Jones reached the third round of the girls’ singles at Wimbledon and Roland Garros.

Fellow Australians Maya Joint and Melisa Ercan further bolster Australian numbers at the Workday Canberra International, as wildcards at the tournament.

Joint cracked the top 30 of the junior rankings on the back of her J300 victory in Houston, while Ercan achieved a career-high ranking of world No.26 in June after reaching the third round of Roland Garros.

Adam Walton and Tristan Schoolkate have been awarded wildcards into the men’s draw.

Walton won an ATP Challenger title in August after taking out the Cary 1 tournament. He also defeated 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Vasek Pospisil and pushed two-time Australian Open quarterfinalist Tennys Sandgren to the distance throughout the year.

Schoolkate achieved a career-high singles ranking of world No.244 in October, after two ATP Challenger Tour semifinal appearances in 2023 .

Alex Bolt and Luke Saville headline the qualifying draw for the Workday Canberra International. They join Edward Winter, Dane Sweeney and Matthew Dellavedova as Australians to feature.

“The field for the 2024 Workday Canberra International is the strongest we have ever assembled in the nation’s capital,” Tournament Director, Lawrence Robertson, said of the tournament, which will also feature former world No.7 David Goffin.

“Eleven top-100 players will compete alongside some of the world’s best emerging talent and a large Australian contingent. With over 100 players from over 40 countries, it is truly an international field, and we can’t wait to welcome them all shortly to Canberra.”

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