Four of the biggest names in women's tennis - Anna Kournikova, Steffi Graf and Williams sisters Venus and Serena - have been confirmed for a new, groundbreaking Hong Kong tournament in January, it was revealed yesterday. The tournament - the Super Power Challenge Cup - is the brainchild of the Hong Kong Tennis Patrons Association, which has been attempting to put together an event ever since it became clear that the 1998 Marlboro Championships would be cancelled. The Marlboro event usually featured 12 players from the men's professional circuit. This year's tournament was scrapped after sponsor Phillip Morris withdrew its financial backing. That left Hong Kong officials anxious to find a similarly high-profile tournament to stage in its place. 'We basically had a look around and discussed the options,' said HKTPA tournament director Brian Catton. 'A women's event was seen as the way to go.' Haider Barma, president of the HKTPA, said the new crop of women's tennis talent and the healthy state of the women's game had been the key. 'If you look at women's tennis it has probably never been stronger,' Barma said. 'There is a boom in the game at the moment and interest is huge. 'To many people today, women's tennis is where the buzz is, where the action is, and excited fans everywhere are flocking to see the game's new stars. Women now play with extraordinary power and athleticism,' he added. Kournikova, Graf and the Williams sisters were signed after an intense period of lobbying and phone-calling by tournament director Catton. Catton travelled to last month's US Open to meet players and agents. He estimates he made more than 150 calls to Richard Williams - father and agent of Venus and Serena - in order to sign them for Hong Kong. SportsPost understands world number one Martina Hingis was approached for the Hong Kong event, but turned down a place in the field earlier this month. 'It was as hard as I've ever worked to get someone to come to Hong Kong, but I think, all things considered, it was worth it. I kept making call after call after call and drawing nothing but blanks,' Catton said. 'Then finally Richard Williams phoned my hotel and asked to set up a meeting. Once he found out a little bit about the TPA and what the association has done for the development of tennis in Hong Kong he was very keen,' he added. The tournament's timing had also proved popular with the players, Catton said. 'If you look at the women's calendar there are only a few places that you can place an event like this. Early January is seen as a good time because the players will be preparing for the Australian Open. They can come to Hong Kong, the tournament will finish on Saturday and they can be in Australia on Sunday,' Catton explained. The HKTPA is attempting to find a title sponsor for the tournament but yesterday gave assurances the event, scheduled for Victoria Park from January 7-9, would go ahead regardless. The HKTPA's cash coffers would cover the cost of the tournament if sponsors were not found, said association treasurer Colvin Brown. 'The TPA has got sufficient reserves for this event but we definitely need to get good sponsorship if we are to continue in future years,' Brown added. Two Asian players will be added to the tournament field at a later date. The competition will start with quarter-finals, with two players receiving byes straight into the semi-finals. Ticket prices will be announced shortly.