KOOYONG, January 8, 2018 (Press Release)
The 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic is celebrating its 30th anniversary in style hosting five of the top 10 male players in the world, the first player born this century to play in a Grand Slam, the youngest player in the Australian Open and two of the all-time tennis greats who together have collected 28 Grand Slam titles.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal will get a vital Australian Open tune-up when he takes on Richard Gasquet of France on Tuesday.
Twelve-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will also hit the famous Kooyong centre court in preparation for the Australian Open, taking on world No.6 Dominic Thiemof Austria on Wednesday.
Tournament director Peter Johnston is beyond pleased with the draws for the tournament’s anniversary after fielding calls over the last few weeks from the most sought-after managers in world tennis.
“The draw is an embarrassment of riches really, I can’t believe it, with five of the top 10 men not including Novak, it’s just been an incredible response this year,” Johnston said at the press conference on Monday morning.
“There’s so many other events on at this time of year now, yet there is still an opportunity for Kooyong because it offers two matches or even just a match for players to prepare for the Australian Open.
“I do want to thank Destanee for playing again this year, a product of Kooyong, an amazing year she’s had to win the wildcard playoff and get to the final in the Australian juniors, she’s done the hard yards to get into the Open.”
Johnston confirmed that Australian Bernard Tomic would play a Fast4 three-set match to conclude the Kooyong programme on Tuesday against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
“We wanted Bernard to play down here, he was due to play qualifiers, I’m not sure of that status but he’s playing a tune-up match if you like for the fourth match here to round out Tuesday,” Johnston added.
ORDER OF PLAY – commences at 11.00am
Tuesday 9 January 2018
Destanee Aiava (AUS) vs Andrea Petkovic (GER)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs Richard Gasquet (FRA)
David Goffin (BEL) vs Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
Bernard Tomic (AUS) vs Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN)
Wednesday 10 January 2018
Marin Cilic (CRO) vs Matthew Ebden (AUS)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs Dominic Thiem (AUT)
Belinda Bencic (SUI) vs Wang Xinyu (CHN)
Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
Adding further spice to an already high-class event, former world No.17 Tomic will hit the court on Tuesday against Nishioka as he continues to weigh up the possibility of an appearance in the Australian Open qualifying commencing on Wednesday.
Two-time defending champion David Goffin (Belgium) returns and will open his defence on Tuesday against 10th ranked Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
Big-serving South African Kevin Anderson who comes to Kooyong after making the final of the 2017 US Open will play popular Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, who was runner up at Kooyong in 2008 and Australian Open runner up in 2006, on Wednesday.
Matthew Ebden will make his debut at Kooyong as the second highest Australian player on the ATP world rankings following a successful season for the 30-year-old after recovering from injury. The West Australian will play 2014 US Open winner Marin Cilic of Croatia in the first match on Wednesday. A pair of Challenger Tour wins in November following his first trip to an ATP Tour final in Newport against John Isner has Ebden, the world No.76, inspired to carry that momentum further.
“I think I’ve got more potential, that I can get a lot better as a player,” Ebden said at his first visit to Kooyong’s centre court.
“The few injuries over the last 18 months has given me a new appreciation for the sport and I wouldn’t be surprised if my best tennis is still ahead of me.”
2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic men’s field:
|Player||Country||Age||ATP Ranking||Highest Rank|
|Pablo Carreno Busta||Spain||26||10||10|
|Kevin Anderson||South Africa||31||14||10|
Kooyong member Destanee Aiava returns to her home court
Australian teenager Destanee Aiava heads the women’s field ahead of her second home slam appearance, along with two former top 10 players in Andrea Petkovic (Germany) and Belinda Bencic (Switzerland). The trio will be joined by 16-year-old Chinese rising star Wang Xinyu who will be the youngest player in the Australian Open after winning the Australian Open Asian wildcard in Zhuhai China in November.
Aiava is a Kooyong member and became the first player born this decade to play in a Grand Slam when she made her Australian Open debut in 2017. The 17-year-old returns to Kooyong for the second year and will take on German Andrea Petkovic in the opening match on Tuesday. Petkovic, who’s form has been mixed since returning to the top 10 in 2015, is looking forward to the tournament as the world No. 98 has been able to stay injury-free as she seeks to again climb the WTA ranking tree.
“This is my home club so I’m very happy to be back and I’m feeling confident and looking forward to opening up the tournament tomorrow,” Aiava told reporters on Monday.
“It is quite different, I’m going into the Australian Open with a lot more confidence than I did last year, I’m also a year older, and not as nervous… hopefully I can get that first win (at a Grand Slam) but I’m just going to go in and have a lot of fun.”
Bencic travels to Melbourne with the Diamond Ball from a Hopman Cup win in her hand luggage. The 20-year-old was superb in the mixed doubles finale in Perth alongside Roger Federer and will be keen to return to her career high position of 7th in the world in 2018. She takes on Wang Xinhu on Wednesday.
“I’m excited to be playing my first Australian Open after winning through in Zhuhai,” Wang said.
“Then I had to think about what would be the best preparation and when I heard about the Kooyong Classic I thought it would be perfect. I have heard that it is an amazing club with lots of history and I am really looking forward to playing my matches there.”
2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic women’s field:
|Player||Country||Age||WTA Ranking||Highest Rank|
Local tennis great Pat Cash, inaugural winner of the Kooyong Classic in 1988, will be the official ambassador for the tournament at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club that runs from January 9 – 12.
“Thirty years goes pretty quickly, but it was grass courts back then and it was a bit of a trial tournament and I was pretty happy to play being a Melbourne boy,” Cash said of his win in 1988.
“It just goes to show that there are some alternative formats that can work really well in Australian tennis… being a player myself I know that they always look to get matches the week before without all the pressure of playing a tournament and travel.
“It’s going to be a very exciting week, watching Rafa’s legs and Novak’s arm and everything else… it’s my understanding these guys have actually had good preparations but just had little setbacks.”
The list of famous tennis names that have played on the historical centre court include Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi – with American duo Michael Chang and Andy Roddick the only two players who have won in three consecutive years. Winners of the tournament have come from 10 different countries, with five world No. 1s having won the Kooyong Classic.
“The 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic is shaping up to be a ‘must see’ part of the Australian Summer of tennis in January,” Priceline Pharmacy CEO and Managing Director, Richard Vincent said.
“It’s a world class player field and we love to see that the women will again be part of the event.”