Latest 14 Dec 2022

Red-hot men’s field confirmed for ASB Classic 2023

by Media
Red-hot men’s field confirmed for ASB Classic 2023

Two of the hottest players on the rise pose major threats to two Auckland favourites at the top of the men’s field announced for the ASB Classic in the New Year.

Tournament Director Nicolas Lamperin is confident that one of the strongest casts in the tournament’s history will line up in the men’s contest in Auckland from 9 January.

The 19-strong field announced, with wildcards and qualifiers still to be added, are all within the top 65 players on world rankings.

It is led by current World No.3 ranked Casper Ruud, a 23-year-old from Norway – runner-up in two Grand Slams and the Nitto ATP Finals – who won three times in 2022 to earn top seeding for the ASB Classic.

If Ruud is a young gun on the up, then there is excitement in second seed, Holger Rune, a teenager from Denmark who has set the tennis scene alight to rise to 11 in the world with three wins including the Paris Masters final over Novak Djokovic, one of the four top-10 players he defeated.

Ruud and Rune pose a threat to hometown hero Cameron Norrie, the South African-born World No 14, who learned the game in Auckland, became the top US collegiate player and since under the British flag, he has pushed into the world’s top-10 in 2022. He made 10 ATP Tour finals from mid-2021 to August this year, including a major victory at the ATP Masters 1000 at Indian Wells, and reached the semis in Wimbledon.

Norrie was the beaten finalist in the last pre-COVID final at the ASB Tennis Arena in 2019, and no doubt it would be poignant should he prevail as tennis celebrates 100 years at the Stanley St venue.

Another with plenty of local support will be seventh seed John Isner, the big-serving American who lines up for the ninth time in Auckland. He earned his first ATP victory at the ASB Tennis Arena in 2010, which he repeated in 2014 as well as reaching the quarter-finals four times.

“It was important for us to work hard to attract a strong world-class field for the first time back since 2020,” said new Lamperin.

“We have an extraordinarily good men’s field, with Ruud, Rune and Norrie among the hottest players in the world over the last two years. To have the initial field within the top 65 ranked players in the world is a tremendous achievement for everyone who has worked so hard on this event, and testament to the reputation of this tournament in Auckland.

“We have some truly great players who continue to support our tournament like John Isner, who is one of the most respected players on the circuit, and possibly also Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who is an alternate.

“It is a fine mix of proven performers and prodigious potential in this field and they will provide some truly outstanding tennis for the fans.”

There would be fan interest if veteran Frenchman Gasquet, the 36-year-old who has been on the circuit for 20 years, gets a start. Currently second on the alternate list, the former world No 1 junior rose to career-high seven in 2007 and has won 15 titles including being the youngest player to win an ATP Tour match in his debut as a 15-year-old.

Such is the global nature of the sport that there are 11 nationalities in the top-19 ranked players, with four from Argentina as the leading nation.

There are 28 in the field comprising the 19 direct entries announced today, three Wild Cards, two special exemptions and four qualifiers.

The 19 direct entries are (with world ranking):

1. Casper Ruud (NOR) World Ranking 3, 2. Holger Rune (DEN) 11, 3. Cameron Norrie (GBR) 14, 4. Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 25; 5. Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) 30, 6. Alexander Bublik (KAZ) 37, 7. John Isner (USA) 41, 8. Sebastian Baez (ARG) 43, 9. Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 46, 10 Jenson Brooksby (USA) 48, 11 Alex Molcan (SLK) 50, 12 David Goffin (BEL) 53, 13. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 55, 14. Pedro Cachin (ARG) 57, 15. Jaume Munar (ESP) 58, 16. Marcos Giron (USA) 61, 17. Pedro Martinez (ESP) 62, 18. Quentin Halys (FRA) 64, 19. Constant Lestienne (FRA) 65.