THE Hobart International will be Sam Stosur's final preparation for next year's Australian Open as the 2011 US Open champion looks to rectify a poor record at her home grand slam.
``It will be fun to start my year a little differently, I'll play at the Hopman Cup in Perth (where she will partner Bernard Tomic) followed by Hobart,'' Stosur said yesterday.
``Hobart is a tournament that I've always enjoyed playing at and I know I'll face some tough competition there ahead of the Australian Open.''
In 11 attempts at the Open, the furthest Stosur has got is the fourth round (in 2006 and 2010), and since winning her one and only grand slam, she has gone out in the first and second rounds of the tournament.
Last year's second-round loss came at the hands of China's Jie Zheng, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5, despite being 5-2 up in the final set.
Stosur had previously used the Brisbane and Sydney internationals as her Australian Open warm-up, losing in the first or second rounds of those events in the past five years.
Tournament director and executive director of Tennis Tasmania Mark Handley was thrilled to have Stosur, who this year has won WTA titles in South Carolina and Japan, at the Domain Tennis Centre for the first time since 2004.
``We are thrilled Sam has chosen Hobart as her penultimate event ahead of the Australian Open,'' Handley said.
``The Hobart International has a proven track record of providing an environment for players to put the finishing touches on their games ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
``As Australia's leading female tennis player and one of the world's elite sportswomen, the local community will be presented with a real treat, as we watch and support Sam through a week of high-quality tennis in our own backyard.''
The tournament will also give Stosur the chance to familiarise herself with the facilities before Australia's Fed Cup tie against Russia in Hobart on February 8-9.
The Hobart International will be held from January 5-11.