Francesca Schiavone has received the final wildcard into the 2016 ASB Classic, rounding out the strongest field in the event's history.

Despite being ranked outside the top 100, the Italian will be one of the dangerous floaters in the main draw, the kind of player that the big guns want to avoid.

Schiavone enjoyed the ultimate success on the clay of Roland Garros in 2010, becoming the first female from her country to win a Grand Slam singles title. She made the French Open final a year later - losing to Li Na - and spent time ranked inside the world's top five players.

The 35-year-old has scaled back her tennis commitments over the last few years but still reached two quarter-finals in 2014 (Antwerp and Istanbul) and made the third round in Paris.

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Schiavone (world No 114) had intended to play qualifying in Auckland but was grateful for the wildcard, which will boost her chances of gaining direct entry into the Australian Open.

The Italian has an impressive record at Stanley Street, with two semifinal appearances from three visits. Her first appearance in Auckland was as a teenager in 2000, ranked 80th in the world. The 19-year-old enjoyed three wins, including a victory over seventh seed Cara Black.

In 2010 Schiavone justified her status as one of highest-ranked players at the ASB Classic, reaching the last four before falling to compatriot and top seed Flavia Pennetta in the semifinal. Last year Schiavone lost to Polish qualifier Urszula Radwanska, who went on to reach the quarter-final.

The other 2016 wildcards have gone to Marina Erakovic and promising Latvian teenager Jelena Ostapenko.

ROTORUA DAILY POST | Sport
29 Dec, 2015 5:10am
5 minutes to read