Romanian world No.24 Mihaela Buzarnescu returns for the Hobart International in January, attempting to go one step further and take out the 2019 singles final.
But two-time champion Elise Mertens will not defend her crown next year.
The Belgian has soared up the rankings to No.12 in the world after reaching the 2018 Australian Open semi-finals.
The 23-year-old Mertens is set to play the Sydney International that offers more WTA points than Hobart.
Buzarnescu’s astonishing story of redemption after shoulder and knee injuries, which the latter prompted two major surgeries, came after a decade out of tennis.
The 30-year-old lost the three-set final on her Hobart debut less than 12 months after her professional return.
Tournament director Darren Sturgess believed the uniqueness of the women’s event could contribute to another fairytale story.
“The Hobart International has a very proud history of unearthing future stars, as reigning champion Elise Mertens had demonstrated in her-top 20 rise this year,” Sturgess said this week.
“Naomi Osaka won the US Open after starting her season in Hobart and the 2018 quarter-finalist, Aryna Sabalenka, is now verging on a top-10 debut.
“Looking at our 2019 entry list, I would not be surprised to see some similar breakthroughs begin here again.
“We are proud to be the only standalone WTA tournament in Australia.”
Buzarnescu is one of six former world top-20 ranked players confirmed ahead of the tournament.
One-time world No.7 Belinda Bencic, who 12 months earlier teamed with Roger Federer to win the 2018 Hopman Cup for Switzerland, appears at the Hobart International for the first time.
China’s Zhang Shuai, the tournament’s top seed in 2018 and a former Australian Open quarter-finalist, joins 2016 Hobart champion Alize Cornet and four-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the tournament main draw.
The field also includes two Wimbledon semi-finalists: Magdalena Rybarikova, in 2017, who had achieved a career-high ranking of No.17 earlier this year, and Kirsten Flipkens, in 2013, a former world No.13. Both players reached the 2018 semi-finals.
Reigning Australian Open doubles champion Timea Babos, who rose to world doubles No.1 since, is in the mix with Sofia Kenin and Alison Riske, who led the US to the 2018 Fed Cup final.
“We have an exciting mix of experienced players and upcoming stars confirmed to compete in our 26th edition in January,” Sturgess said.
“We’re thrilled to welcome back former world No.11 Alize Cornet, who is a fan favourite here in Hobart, and Mihaela Buzarnescu, who earned a lot of respect with her run to our 2018 final.
“Belinda Bencic is a former top-10 player rebuilding her ranking following injuries and is one of many young promising players in the field.”
Looking at our 2019 entry list, I would not be surprised to see some similar breakthroughs begin here againTournament director Darren Sturgess