Roger Federer has announced that he will contest the 2014 Brisbane International, marking a departure from his traditional lead-in to the Australian Open.
In a thrilling coup for the event – to be staged from 29 December 2013 to 5 January 2014 – the 17-time Grand Slam champion will step onto Pat Rafter Arena at the Queensland Tennis Centre for the first time in his career.
In previous years, Federer’s Australian Open preparation has typically involved a trip to the ATP event in Doha, Qatar before coming Melbourne. Occasionally it was the AAMI Classic at Kooyong, where he was a champion in 2005 and 2009.
Yet the Brisbane International announcement marks the first time in five years that the Swiss legend, soon to be 32, will play a tournament on Australian soil prior to the Australian Open.
It's especially significant given that prior to Australian Open 2013, Federer played no lead-in events, in line with a deliberate decision to reduce his playing schedule at this stage of his career.
Among Federer’s 17 Grand Slam singles titles include four Australian Opens, in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010.
The Brisbane International has been a favourite event on the tennis calendar among players since its establishment in 2009.
One of five Australian Open Series events in January, the joint men’s and women’s tournament acts as a vital tune-up ahead of the Australian Open.
The Brisbane International’s illustrious honour roll of champions includes Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova.