Defending champion and crowd favourite Lleyton Hewitt will headline the AAMI Classic tennis tournament at Melbourne's Kooyong early next January.

The Australian veteran was one of three of the eight-man field announced on Tuesday.

US Open semi-finalists Richard Gasquet, the French world No.9, and Swiss world No.10 Stanislas Wawrinka are also playing in the invitational Australian Open warm-up tournament.

Hewitt, currently ranked 57th, is coming off an impressive run at the US Open himself after narrowly missing a quarter-final berth.

Last year at Kooyong, Hewitt beat world No.6 Argentina Juan Martin del Potro to win the title; the player he upset in the second round of the US Open.

The 32-year-old backed up his Flushing Meadowsn form by helping steer Australia back into the Davis Cup World Group for the first time since 2007 with victory over Poland at the weekend.

After celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the tournament has been sold by Colin Stubs to global sports giants IMG.

The new owners are considering a change of format beyond 2014.

Eight players currently play three matches over four days to determine first place, but they are looking at expanding the field to make it more attractive to the top-ranked players.

Tournament director Brian Cooney, who has replaced Stubs in the role, said it was too late to make changes for the January edition.

"We recognise that tennis players' habits are sometimes trends and fashion," Cooney said.

"It's been clear that they haven't wanted to play an ATP tournament, the top players, and it's becoming clear that maybe this format is becoming a little bit inconsistent with what the desires are of the players.

"Given that it's mid-September, it's pretty late to be doing anything other than what's been happening in the past but it's a very necessary conversation."

He ruled out the inclusion of women, saying the WTA wouldn't allow its players to play.


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