HOBART, Australia - Yanina Wickmayer leads a very strong field this week at the Moorilla Hobart International, one of two WTA tournaments in this, the last week of preparation for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Wickmayer, once ranked as high as No.12 but now No.26 after struggling with a back injury during the second half of 2011, is hoping to use this week to give her a boost for Melbourne, and subsequently another run at the upper echelon.
"I'm excited about competing in Hobart," she said. "It's the perfect setting for me to get some quality matches leading into the Australian Open. I'm also looking forward to meeting the sporting fans of Tasmania, and hopefully adding my name to the long list of distinguished champions that have won the event."
The No.1-seeded Wickmayer will face New Zealand's Marina Erakovic in the first round (Erakovic won their only previous meeting, on the ITF Circuit).
The rest of the seeds are all ranked just below Wickmayer, between No.27 and No.40 - Anabel Medina Garrigues, Monica Niculescu, Angelique Kerber, Jarmila Gajdosova, Shahar Peer, Ksenia Pervak and Irina-Camelia Begu.
Gajdosova, Australia's No.2 player behind Sam Stosur, is the defending champion at the tournament. "I'm really excited about coming back and after my success in 2011, I hope to perform well again," the Slovak-born Gajdosova said. "The crowds are so supportive and I really enjoy playing on Centre Court."
Last year's runner-up, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, is unseeded in the draw. Other dangerous floaters include former World No.5 Anna Chakvetadze and another former Top 20 player, China's Zheng Jie, who had a strong week in Auckland this past week. Chakvetadze and Zheng are both former champions here.
Medina Garrigues and Lucie Hradecka are the No.1 seeds in the doubles.