Brisbane International Tennis Revived: Barty and Rafter Praise Return of Coveted Tournament

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Tennis superstars, Ash Barty and Pat Rafter, have celebrated the revival of the Brisbane International (BI), formerly halted by the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 2020, the coveted tournament will serve as a warm-up for the upcoming Australian Open.

Play will recommence at the Queensland Tennis Centre on December 31. As it restores its age-old convention, the event, bestowed with a $3.1 million pool, will host tournaments for both genders; a tradition not witnessed since 2019 for the men’s BI championship.

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Inaugurated in 2009, the event has previously showcased titans of the sport, such as Serena Williams and Roger Federer. However, it was unfortunately axed from the men’s ATP tour amidst the Covid-19 ravages.

The previous women’s championship in 2020 was seized by Karolina Plishkova, marking the end of the men’s event a year prior. The men’s finale witnessed Japan’s Kei Nishikori oust Daniil Medvedev.

January saw Brisbane stage the United Cup, hosting nationals from countries like Italy and Poland. However, the general consensus amongst the local fandom favored the BI, voicing that it delivered a superior product. Acknowledging this feedback, the restoration of the tournament was set in motion.

“It’s exhilarating to see the Brisbane International return in the maiden week of the 2024 calendar,” said the retired world No.1 Ash Barty. Speaking at the QTC’s centre court, Pat Rafter Arena, Barty added, “This court holds cherished memories for me – of coming here, training, and honing my craft.”

Players relish the opportunity to participate in the Brisbane event, reflecting their love for the city and the ambiance of its spectators.

Former world no.1, Rafter, expressed disappointment over the non-inclusion of the BI in the ATP schedule during his tenure. According to the two-time US Open champion, the event as it once was- hosting both men and women- held great appeal to its spectators.

The distinguished roster of BI champions comprises Federer, Andy Roddick, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt, and Nick Kyrgios, among the men’s division. The women’s champions have included Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and Kim Clijsters.

While the mixed-team United Cup is still a fixture in the Australian summer tennis calendar, it will only be played in Sydney and Perth, coinciding with the BI.

Despite alternate tournaments, BI tournament director Cam Pearson assured that the world’s best players will still flock to Queensland. The placement of players at the United Cup and the week one event in Adelaide last summer was considerably diverse, which he believes will be the case again next year.