World No 5 and Olympic champion Elena Dementieva has been unveiled as the headline act for the $383,110 ASB Classic international women's tennis tournament in Auckland on January 5-10.
The Russian, who turns 27 tomorrow, has won more than US$10 million ($17.02 million) in career earnings and this year reached the semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open.
She has won 10 WTA titles, including two this year, at the Beijing Olympics and in Dubai.
She will become the highest ranked player to appear at the Auckland tournament.
Classic tournament director Brenda Perry today said she was delighted to snare the Russian.
"Elena brings a commanding presence to the court with a captivating mix of intensity, passion, power and femininity," Perry said.
Dementieva's friendship with Perry and a desire to visit new countries ultimately persuaded the Russian to add the Classic to her to her touring schedule, immediately ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the season, the Australian Open in Melbourne.
"For me, as a tennis player who has been playing on the tour for almost 10 years, it's very interesting to go to a new place," she said in a conference call.
"There's not too many countries I haven't been to and I'm very excited about coming to Auckland for the first time.
"I would like to have a good start in 2009. It's really important to have a good start to the new year - to play some good tennis and get some confidence before the Grand Slam.
"It's also important for me to catch up with Brenda, who is a friend of mine."