Brisbane International returns in tennis event shake-up

Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS

Australia's summer of tennis will be shaken up again with the return of the Brisbane International to run alongside a streamlined United Cup in Sydney and Perth.

Pat Rafter and Ash Barty lauded the return of their hometown event at the Queensland Tennis Centre on Friday that will see an expanded 32-player field in men's and women's singles compete for a share in $3.1 million of prize money.

The Australian Open lead-up event had been a raging success between 2009-2019, huge crowds on both Pat Rafter Arena and outside courts watching as Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova all lifted the trophy.

The men's ATP Cup was then introduced and the Brisbane International was contested as a women's event in 2020, before last year's mixed teams United Cup was debuted to mixed reviews.

Former world No.1 Barty endorsed the move to reinstate Brisbane as a standalone event from December 31-January 7, but was adamant it would not lure her out of retirement.

"It's the very first week of the calendar, the players love to come here, love the atmosphere," she said.

"But I'm absolutely loving every single second (of being a mother)."

Fellow former No.1 Rafter said he wished the event existed when he played.

"It really makes the whole centre work; there's enough courts, it's a great climate ahead of the Aussie Open, would have been a great stop if available when we played," he said.

The season will begin on December 29 with the mixed teams United Cup in Perth and Sydney in a streamlined event after Brisbane also hosted two group stages last year.

The Adelaide International - like Brisbane a WTA 500 and ATP 250 tournament - will follow from January 8-13 while the Hobart International (WTA 250) will again be held.

Brisbane tournament director and Tennis Australia's head of major events Cam Pearson was confident the stars would commit to ensure deep fields at both Brisbane and the United Cup tournaments.

"The teams event was going to evolve and this is part of that," he said.

"Moving to a two-city event and optimising the calendar by bringing back the Brisbane International; it's a win-win."


United Cup

* Group stages December 29 - January 5, Perth (RAC Arena), Sydney (Ken Rosewall Arena)

* Finals January 6-7 TBC

Brisbane International

* December 31 - January 7, Brisbane (Queensland Tennis Centre)

Adelaide International

* January 8-13, Adelaide (The Drive)

Hobart International

* January 8-13, Hobart (Domain Tennis Centre)

Australian Open qualifying

* January 8-12, Melbourne (Melbourne Park)

Australian Open

* January 15 -28, Melbourne (Melbourne Park).