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SYDNEY: Former world number one Naomi Osaka will return to the WTA tour after a break of 15 months at the Brisbane International warm up for the Australian Open in January, organisers said on Friday.

The four-times Grand Slam winner last played a WTA tournament at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in late September 2022 and had a daughter, Shai, in July this year.

“I am really excited about getting back out on court and competing,” Osaka, who won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, said in a news release. “I always love starting my season in Brisbane and can’t wait to return.

The Brisbane International is such a great tournament and will set me up for a brilliant comeback this summer.“

The 26-year-old has had long spells out of the game since her second triumph at Melbourne Park, taking a lengthy break to prioritise her mental health after skipping the 2021 French Open and another after the US Open the same year.

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The Brisbane tournament, which is returning after a three-year hiatus forced initially by the COVID pandemic, will also feature Andy Murray and another twice Australian Open champion in Victoria Azarenka from Dec. 31 to Jan. 7.

“It’s great to see the Brisbane International back and I am really looking forward to returning to Queensland this summer,” said Briton Murray, who has lost five Australian Open finals.

“I have great memories of winning the title in 2012 and 2013 and I would love to lift the trophy again for a third time in Brisbane.”

World number 10 Holger Rune will also feature in the ATP tournament, which will go up against the United Cup team event taking place in Perth and Sydney in the same week.

The Australian Open takes place at Melbourne Park from Jan. 14-28.

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