More stars align for Brisbane International
WIMBLEDON champion Garbine Muguruza and surprise US Open winner Sloane Stephens have added their blaze of recent silverware to the Brisbane International's women field.
World No. 2 Muguruza and Stephens were today announced as heavyweight entrants for the December 31-January 7 Queensland Tennis Centre tournament.
Stephens, a fearless shotmaker ranked No. 13, was a US Open winner last month (Sept) in the most unexpected of circumstances, returning earlier in the year from an 11-month tour absence forced by foot surgery.
The 24-year-old American called her surge from a ranking of No. 957 in mid-2017 to becoming the sport's newest major winner an "insane'' sequence of events.
Brisbane organisers can claim two of the top-three ranked women, Muguruza and third-ranked Karolina Pliskova.
Stephens ends a five-year absence from the Brisbane International.
Brisbane tennis fans were given a long look at the future of women's tennis when Stephens tested, but lost to Serena Williams at the 2013 Brisbane International.
The exchange at Pat Rafter Arena between the two generations of African-American talent carried a promise of future tennis history about it, with Stephens following Serena and Venus Williams into the Grand Slam champions' club in less than five years.
Three weeks after her Brisbane tilt at Serena Williams, Stephens reached her first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open, but her rise was not a straightforward exercise.
That was the most recent time Williams played in Brisbane and tournament organisers are waiting to hear if she will press on with her plans to play the Australian Open from January 15, which would be four months since she gave birth to her first child.
Should Williams elect to play the Australian Open, it would stand to reason she would want to play a WTA tournament first, with either Brisbane or the Sydney International, a week later, the most likely choice.
Muguruza was ranked No. 1 for four weeks in September and October, before results left the year-end world No. 1 ranking in the possession of Romanian Simon Halep.
Muguruza won her second Grand Slam crown at Wimbledon in July.
The Spanish right-hander retired injured from matches in both the Brisbane Internationals she played, in 2016 and 2017. She checked out last summer after only five games from his semi-final against eventual runner-up Alize Cornet with a thigh injury.
Muguruza and Stephens join Pliskova, the Brisbane defending champion, and Australian No. 1 Ash Barty in the women's field at Pat Rafter Arena.
French and US Open champion Rafael Nadal heads the men's entries so far with other big names including Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios.