Back To The Future At Kooyong For Aussie Teen Destanee AiavaPosted on December 7, 2017
Australian teenager Destanee Aiava, the first player in the world born this century to play in a Grand Slam, prepares for her second year on the WTA tour at the 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic, and there is still a top line addition yet to be named in the women’s draw.
Aiava will face off against former world No. 9 Andrea Petkovic of Germany and recent world No. 7 Belinda Bencic from Switzerland, who has catapulted up the WTA rankings in recent months after recovering from a serious wrist injury that required surgery in early May.
The 30th anniversary of the traditional pre-Australian Open event will be held from Tuesday 9 – Friday 12 January and features 17 year-old Aiava, who made her major debut at Melbourne Park at the tender age of 16 earlier this year.
Prior to that she made her WTA debut at Kooyong and will this year be looking for her first win at her home club, after competitive matches against Sorana Cirstea and Qiang Wang in 2017.
Aiava is now ranked 153 in the world following a solid year on the senior circuit that saw her make the third round of qualifying for Wimbledon after playing in the semi-finals at a tour event in Saint-Gaudens, France.
Earlier in the 2017 season the Frankston resident played in her Grand Slam debut at the Australian Open before claiming the Perth International and winning again on clay in Mornington in March.
“Playing the Kooyong Classic again is such a big honour and privilege for me as I get to play at my home club and state, I can’t wait to get back out there again in 2018,” Aiava said.
“My hopes for the final tournament before the Australian Open are to get some good quality matches in. Win or lose, I just want to go in there, give it my all and have fun before the first Grand Slam of the year.”
Aiava’s goals for her second season on the tour are high, with a top 100 berth before the end of the Australian summer heading the list.
“I’ve had a really big and busy year, with ups and downs but I’ve gained a lot of confidence in myself as a player and also in my game,” she added.
“My rankings jumped from around 400-300 at the beginning of the year to top 150 and I’m really happy with that as it shows my improvement considering I’m restricted with tournaments, so hopefully I can finish this year off with a bang.”
During September, the 20-year-old Swiss, Bencic, was ranked outside the top 300 and is now at 98 on the WTA rankings following recent tour wins in Taipei and Hua Hin, following on from her victory in Saint-Petersburg.
Bencic was ranked as high as seven on the WTA rankings early in 2016 before a serious hand injury derailed and then eventually ended her season.
In 2015, as an 18-year-old, she was the youngest player in 11 years to defeat superstar Serena Williams during a spectacular run at the ATP event in Toronto that also included wins against Bouchard, Wozniacki, Lisicki, Ivanovic and current world number one Simona Halep.
She will represent Switzerland at the Hopman Cup with teammate, nineteen-time Grand Slam winner and world men’s number two Roger Federer in Perth at the end of the year.
Tournament director Peter Johnston is confident of landing one further star player in the 2018 women’s draw to add to the current three-player field.
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Petkovic has won six career WTA singles titles and the German is looking to build on a season that included a semi-final appearance in Washington after defeating Eugenie Bouchard.
The 30-year-old German was unlucky to succumb to world No. 26 Dominika Cibulkova 9-7 in the third set in the first round at Wimbledon, which could have opened up the draw for her in London.
Priceline Pharmacy CEO, Richard Vincent, said the brand is proud to be the event’s naming rights sponsor for the fourth year running and looks forward to an exciting tournament early next year.
“Both Priceline Pharmacy and the Kooyong Classic began about 30 years ago and today are Australian icons, so this partnership provides the perfect opportunity to jointly promote an active and healthy lifestyle. As a brand for women, it is also important to us to support female athletes and help inspire the next generation of young women,” said Richard.
Over the years fans have enjoyed world-class tennis while being able to get up close to the stars of the show thanks to the intimate nature of the historical boutique venue.
That experience will be enhanced even further in 2018 with the grass outside courts at Kooyong transformed into the Kooyong Common fan zone – the perfect place to relax on a summer’s day, featuring the crowd-favourite Priceline Pharmacy Health and Beauty Lounge.
The men’s draw is loaded with top-ranked players led by defending two-time Kooyong champion David Goffin who played in the final of the ATP Tour Finals in London after defeating Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
His performance at the tournament took the Belgian to No. 7 in the ATP rankings to finish 2017, just behind 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic and world No. 6 Dominic Thiem, who are also playing at Kooyong.
Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain is the fourth top-ten man in the Kooyong draw, as is big-serving South African Kevin Anderson who comes to Melbourne not long after making the final of the US Open in New York.
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The Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic, is the HOTTEST way to start off your Summer.
Grab your tickets to watch all the action from the 9th – 12th of January here.