Tournament 6 Jan 2023

Main draw wildcards for Men's week announced

by Media
Main draw wildcards for Men's week announced

Exciting young American heads to Auckland for ASB Classic

One of the brightest young hopes in tennis, American Ben Shelton, has been granted a wildcard entry into the men’s draw at the ASB Classic, starting in Auckland on Monday.

Shelton, 20, is already inside the top-100 on the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with the NCAA Champion recently forgoing his final year of college to turn professional.

This came after his performances at the Cincinnati Masters in August that included victory over current world No 3 Casper Ruud, the top seed for the ASB Classic.

Shelton has recently signed to Roger Federer’s TEAM8 Management company.

Joining him as a wildcard is Frenchman Ugo Humbert, the ASB Classic defending champion from 2020, in that memorable final when he won two tiebreak sets, at the age of 21.

Meanwhile, world No.11 Holger Rune, has unfortunately been forced to withdraw after picking up an injury in his first-round loss in Adelaide this week.

The remaining wildcard was earned by Wellington’s Kiranpal Pannu, who took out the final of the tournament initiative between Tennis New Zealand and the ASB Classic to offer a direct spot in the event. Pannu also recently won the ITF event in Papamoa prior to Christmas.

The runner-up in that playoff final, 22 year old Finn Reynolds from Hastings, earned a place in the qualifying as a result.

The final wildcard spot in qualifying has been awarded to the New Zealand Male Player of the Year, Ajeet Rai, the 23-year-old from Taranaki won has won two ITF singles titles as well as considerable success in doubles.

“We are excited on several fronts with the final players named for the ASB Classic,” said Tournament Director Nicolas Lamperin.

“Firstly, Ben Shelton is an exciting young player, and this tournament has a heritage of giving opportunity to tomorrow’s stars, today. Of course, we are disappointed but fully understand the withdrawal of Rune, but at the same time it is fitting to honour the champion from the last ASB Classic three years ago in Ugo Humbert.

“We have committed to the new initiative to provide incentive for New Zealand’s rising talents with Kiranpal Pannu earning a direct entry to the main draw and Finn Reynolds to qualifying.”

The remaining Wild Cards have been awarded to Ajeet Rai (Male New Zealand Player of the Year) in singles qualifying and to Artem Sitak-Alex Lawson and Finn Reynolds-Ajeet Rai in main draw doubles.

Qualifying for the men’s ASB Classic begins at the ASB Tennis Arena on Saturday.