A powerful field headlines the the Gippsland Trophy (Melbourne #1) which is set to be on Sunday on the Australian Open grounds.
Fifty-four players — with the Top 10 seeds earning byes — will be part of this inaugural event.
Leading the was are Simona Halep, former Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka and the streaking Aryna Sabalenka who upped her win streak to 15 after claiming the lone WTA title of the year in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.
Elina Svitolina, Johanna Konta, French Open champion Iga Swiatek, Elise Mertens and Coco Gauff are also in the field.
Halep, who could face young American Whitney Osuigwe in her opener, is projected to meet Swiatek in the quarters.
“I can say that I’m refreshed. The break was good because I’ve had almost 10 years playing every week, every month. So this break was helpful for me, for my mind,” Halep told the WTA.
“Of course, I cannot expect the maximum because this is the first time we experienced this. We didn’t play that many tournaments last year and now we have a Grand Slam ahead. So I’m not sure how it’s going to be, but my mood, my being, is refreshed. I’m ready to start the new year.”
The 19-year-old Swiatek hasn’t played an official match since her stunning French title. The red-hot Sabalenka, who has won her last three events, is lined-up to clash with Muchova in the final eight.
The bottom half quarters are slated to be Mertens-Svitolina and Konta-Osaka. Osaka could face the 16-year-old Gauff in the third round.
The tournament champion earns $50K (USD) with first round losers collecting $3K (USD).
The event begins Sunday in Melbourne.
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