Tennis: Star lineup for women's tennis classic pleases director

By David Leggat

Roberta Vinci.
Roberta Vinci.

Seven players in the top 30, 19 Grand Slam titles altogether, and an alltime great in the field has Auckland women's tennis classic director Karl Budge purring with what is on offer at the end of this year.

Budge revealed the full field for the ASB Classic yesterday, and although there's no player ranked in the top 10, as the tournament is entitled to draw on, he likes what he's got.

Top-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci is the world No 14, a winner of more than US$6 million ($7.19 million), winner of nine WTA singles titles and 19 in doubles - where she's ranked No 1.

She heads an intriguing field. Former Grand Slam winners Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams are the obvious marquee signings - and could draw each other in an opening-day treat - and on the top 10 issue Budge is adamant.

"If I look at the top 10 and had the choice, I'd choose Ana and Venus over probably half those players," he said yesterday.

Vinci may be no artist, but she's a tough competitor and a proven winner, who helped Italy win the Fed Cup this month and who will certainly enhance the doubles event, as well as set the standard in the singles.

On her one previous visit, in 2012, 30-year-old Vinci lost in the second round to Russian Elena Vesnina, who is back and fifth seed, and hoping to go one better than being beaten finalist four years ago.

There are four Americans in the field, headed by fast-rising Jamie Hampton, and one former champion in Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, while New Zealand's best player, Marina Erakovic, sits 11th on rankings.

Williams was due to appear in 2011 but was a late withdrawal due to illness. Budge is confident there won't be a repeat. "Based on what we're paying her you can see very clearly Venus wants to be here and playing."

The entry cutoff is 71, seven spots better than a year ago. The tournament starts on December 30.

- NZ Herald

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