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Six Grand Slam champions in Sydney's women's field, Nishikori headlines men's field

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The Sydney International will boast an extraordinary field when it welcomes a record number of Grand Slam champions to the tournament in 2018.

The 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur, and two-time major winner Angelique Kerber, will join seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová, reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko and US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the women’s draw. 

Former World No.4 Kei Nishikori will lead the men’s draw and joins defending champion Gilles Muller and former top 10 player Fernando Verdasco in Sydney.

Stosur and Kerber’s addition to the star-studded line up is yet another reason to celebrate its 45th year on the WTA calendar.

After a 2016 season that saw Kerber capture her maiden Grand Slam at the Australian Open and book-end the year with a US Open win, the 29-year-old made the final at Monterrey in early 2017, reached the semifinals at Tokyo and Dubai, and also quarterfinals in Brisbane, Miami and Eastbourne.

Local favourite Stosur won one WTA title in 2017 in Strasbourg, when she defeated fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova in three sets, before a stress fracture in her right hand suffered at the French Open derailed her season.

“I am really looking forward to playing again in Sydney,” said Stosur.

“The 2017 season was injury interrupted for me so I’m relishing the thought of starting the year at home after a good pre-season.

“Sydney usually has a strong field but this year is outstanding given the number of Grand Slam champions confirmed. We’re all there because we want the best preparation possible for the Australian Open and that’s what we’ll get at Olympic Park. There are no easy matches in Sydney so I know I have to be ready to go straight away.”

While Stosur is making her 12th appearance at her home tournament, Australian No.1 Ash Barty will be making her first.

Barty achieved a career high singles ranking of No.17 following a season that saw her win her first WTA title in Kuala Lumpur in March, reach the finals at Birmingham and Wuhan, the semifinals at the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai and quarterfinals in Strasbourg and Nottingham.

World No.28 Agnieszka Radwanska will also return to the Harbour City in an attempt to go one better than her finals showing this year, while defending champion Johanna Konta will be bidding to make it back-to-back titles in 2018.

Nishikori rose to fame at the 2014 US Open when he pulled off a stunning upset over world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals to become the first Japanese player to reach a Grand Slam final.

The 27-year-old has been a fixture in the top 10 over the last three years, and reached the finals in Brisbane and Buenos Aires in 2017, before a wrist injury in August ended his season prematurely.

“This will be my first time playing Sydney and I am very much looking forward to it,” said Nishikori.

“I have heard great things about the tournament and think it will be the perfect place to prepare for the Australian Open.”

Sydneysider Jordan Thompson has also confirmed his participation at the tournament in 2018.

Thompson gave Australian tennis fans much to celebrate this season with his Davis Cup heroics helping Australia to the semifinal against Belgium. The 23-year-old claimed some big scalps in 2017, beating top-ranked American Jack Sock in both Davis Cup and at the US Open and upsetting world No.1 Andy Murray in the Brit’s backyard at Queen’s.