Former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic plans to use the Hobart International to help rebuild her tennis career after a lacklustre 2016.

Now ranked 54, Jankovic makes her Hobart debut with a first-round clash against Romanian Monica Niculescu.

"She's a very tricky player, very crafty player with all the slices and drop-shots, quite a unique style of play and it will not be an easy match," the Serb said of her world No 38 opponent.

Shoulder injuries marred last year for Jankovic and while claiming to be fit, said she's still working on her confidence and consistency ahead of the Australian Open.


"I'm trying to comeback and hopefully get as many matches as possible before Melbourne," she said.

"For me at the moment every tournament is important ... to get the confidence needed before entering a big event. It would be nice for me just to get on the road."

Australian comeback player Ash Barty is inching toward a spot in the Hobart main draw with two qualifying wins.

The 20-year-old Queensland and 2012 junior Wimbledon champion is keen to resurrect her tennis career after a stint in cricket

Yesterday the world No 271 beat American and 88th-ranked Nicole Gibbs 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 to progress to her third and final qualification round against Japan's Risa Ozaki.

Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands is top-ranked player at the Hobart International at No 22. She meets Germany's Annika Beck in the first round.

Reigning Hobart champion Alize Cornet is due to return in 2017.

She plays Kristyna Pliskova to decide the final of the Brisbane International on Saturday night, and the pair meet again for round-one in Hobart.

Meanwhile, Samantha Stosur has avoided a first-round seed but there's danger at every other turn for the Australian No 1 at the star-studded Sydney International.

Stosur faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in search of her first win of the summer after suffering a tough three-set loss in Brisbane to French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.

Victory over Pavlyuchenkova would thrust Stosur into a likely second-round showdown with fellow Russian and defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Fifth-seeded Kuznetsova is fancied to beat Irina-Camelia Begu in her opener. Stosur and unseeded Daria Gavrilova - who drew a qualifier at yesterday's draw at Olympic Park - are the only two Australians featuring in a cut-throat 28-strong field featuring six of the world's top 10 players.

The top two seeds - including world No 1 and reigning Australian Open and US Open champion Angelique Kerber - have first-round byes.

Desperate for match practice ahead of her 15th Australian Open campaign, Stosur's other chief threats in a challenging quarter of the draw include 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova, former Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard and rising Chinese star Zhang Shaui.

Fresh off a confidence-boosting win over big-hitting American Coco Vandeweghe at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Gavrilova could run into British eighth seed Joanna Konta if she makes the second round. Bound for her first Grand Slam seeding at Melbourne Park, the 25th-ranked Gavrilova landed in Kerber's quarter, leaving the two on course for a possible last-eight rematch.

Gavrilova thumped Kerber 6-3, 6-1 in Hong Kong in October during the 22-year-old's blazing end to 2016.

Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska has a first-round bye.

Third seed Cibulkova plays Laura Siegemund, while fourth-seeded US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova meets Sloane Stephens. In one of the most testing openers, Olympic champion Monica Puig meets seventh seed and Australian Open dark horse Elina Svitolina.