Erakovic and Latvian youngster confirmed as ASB Classic Wildcards
18-year-old Latvian JelenaOstapenko has been granted a main draw wildcard into the ASB Classic for 2016. The former World Number Two Junior continues the ASB Classic’s reputation for attracting the brightest talent on the WTA Tour.
Ostapenko (ranked 84 in the world) is the second youngest player inside the top 100 (second only to injured Auckland regular Ana Konjuh) and has made a promising start in what has been her first year on tour. After a great year on the ITF circuit (one title, two final’s and a semi-final) she became the second youngest (again behind Konjuh) to reach a WTA final in Quebec City.
Her biggest impact however came at Wimbledon. Having been crowned the Junior Champion in 2014, the Latvian was granted a Wild Card into the main draw for the grass court Slam. Repaying the faith shown in her by the All England Club, as a 17-year-old, Ostapenko knocked out top ten player Carla Suarez Navarro in the opening round.
She backed up her Wimbledon shock performance with a second round appearance at the US Open falling to World Number 14 Sara Errani in the second round.
It is another promising sign for organisers on how the Auckland event is viewed by the players. “It’s great to see the brightest young talent as well as some of the biggest names in our sport choosing Auckland as the place to start their year. Ostapenko is a talented young player, a junior grand slam champion and she has already made her mark on tour. She is certainly one to watch for the future.” said Tournament Director, Karl Budge.
The 2014 Wimbledon junior winner is excited about making her maiden appearance in Auckland “I’m looking forward to starting my year in Auckland. I’ve heard so many good things from the other players and can’t wait to make my first appearance. I want to get my season off to a good start, and this tournament will be a great stepping stone for the Australian Open. My goal is to continue to climb the rankings and make more WTA Finals.”
In other news, as expected Kiwi Number One Marina Erakovic (135) has been confirmed to receive the other main draw wildcard. Erakovic is looking forward to a new year and putting her 2015 injury behind her.
“I think Marina is one of the most underrated sports stars in New Zealand. Tennis is the toughest female sport on the planet and Marina has been at its top end for a number of years. Not too many kiwi sports stars have had the honour of playing on a stage as big as centre court at a Grand Slam. Marina has done that twice this year against top ten players and competed very well – coming within a whisker of beating two-time Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova (4)” said Budge.
“She has won tournaments of this level and I hope we get the chance to see the best of Marina Erakovic in front of her home crowd”, he continued.
The ASB Classic will be played from 4 to 9 January at the ASB Tennis Arena in Auckland.