Serbia's Novak Djokovic will launch his Australian Open defence at next year's Brisbane International, a new event that has been added to the tennis calendar.
The world number three said he had chosen the Jan. 4-10 tournament to begin his preparations for the first grand slam of 2009 because it had the same court surface as at Melbourne Park.
"It is the perfect way to begin my Australian campaign. I have heard great things about Brisbane but never had the opportunity to visit," Djokovic said in a statement on Wednesday.
Djokovic will headline a host of top players for the men's and women's event, including Australian Open runner-up Jo Wilfried Tsonga of France and French Open women's champion Ana Ivanovic.
The Brisbane International was formed this year after officials merged the Australian men's and women's hardcourt championships, which were previously played at Adelaide and Gold Coast.
The new tournament will start two weeks before the Australian Open in Melbourne, which runs from Jan. 19-Feb. 1.