Former finalist Mihaela Buzarnescu is to return to the Hobart International in the new year as part of her Australian Open preparations. The World No.24, who was beaten by Elise Mertens in the final on her first showing in the competition in 2018, heads a strong field for the event, which starts on 5 January.
Belinda Bencic, the former world No.7, will make her tournament debut, while Zhang Shuai, of China, returns to a tournament at which she was top seed in 2018. Alizé Cornet and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have also signed up to take part in Hobart, along with Magdalena Rybarikova and Kirsten Flipkens.
Maria Sakkari and Dayana Yastremska add to a youthful line-up.
"We have an exciting mix of experienced players and upcoming stars confirmed," Hobart International tournament director, Darren Sturgess, said. "We’re thrilled to welcome back former world No.11 Alizé Cornet, who is a fan favourite here, and Mihaela Buzarnescu, who earnt a lot of respect with her run to our 2018 final. Belinda Bencic is a former top 10 player and is one of many young promising players in the field.
"The Hobart International has a proud history of unearthing future stars, as reigning champion Elise Mertens demonstrated in her top 20 rise this year. Naomi Osaka won the US Open after starting her season in Hobart, and 2018 quarterfinalist Aryna Sabalenka is now verging on a top 10 debut. I would not be surprised to see some similar breakthroughs here again.”
The Australian Open gets under way a week after the Hobart tournament, starting in Melbourne on 14 January.