Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Tennis: Question mark over Tsonga for ASB Classic

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Photo / AP
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Photo / AP

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has pulled out of his current tournament in Abu Dhabi - but ASB Classic organisers are still hopeful their top seed will front next week.

Tsonga is the star attraction for the ASB Classic men's event, but played only one match in the Middle East before withdrawing with a forearm complaint.

The 30-year-old Frenchman lost 6-1 6-1 to David Ferrer in just 54 minutes yesterday and then promptly pulled out of the rest of the event.

The news provokes a sense of deja vu - Tsonga's compatriot Gael Monfils missed the 2014 and 2105 Heineken Opens due to injury while last year the tournament also lost seeds David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo and John Isner - but ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge is not panicking yet.

"Nothing really changes for us we are still looking to pick him up on Tuesday," Budge told NZME.

"I spoke to his team this morning and they are very optimistic..they don't think there is anything for us to be alarmed about at the moment.

[It's] business as usual and I'll be at the airport [next week].

Budge says Tsonga's withdrawal appears to be a "precautionary measure".

"It's not surprising in exhibitions - it happens quite frequently," added Budge. "I suggest he has probably turned up and done his commitment and is probably free from that now. Players have a very different approach to exhibitions than they do to tour events. At the moment it is just managing the first event of the year, with a grand slam in a couple of weeks."

But, with the memories of last year injury nightmares still fresh, Budge is also taking a philosophical approach to today's news.

"It's something that we can't control," said Budge. "What will be will be. We carry on doing our job and we know we have great fields. Jo is headlining that but we know we have depth throughout. As you saw last year someone can come through qualifying and win the tournament. The depth is there and it will be a great week no matter what."

Tsonga, currently ranked world No10, missed the first part of last year, including the Australian Open with an arm injury.

- NZ Herald

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