With whopping career earnings of $47.7 million, Venus Williams is one of the all-time greats and this year's defending women's champion. Nailing five Wimbledon titles, two US Opens, 48 career wins and four Olympic gold medals, Williams' staggering career has seen her slay the opposition over two decades - and she's not done yet. One of only three active women's players to have made the finals of all four Grand Slams, this is the 35-year-old American's 12th season in the world top 10 (7th) and the former world number one's third straight year in Auckland.

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki was beaten by Williams in last year's final and will be determined to add a 24th career title to the trophy cabinet to kick-start a season she hopes will bring her a maiden Grand Slam.

On top of banking more than $30m in earnings by the age of 25, Wozniacki is also known for her off-court talents after starring in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit special this year.

Also in the women's mix will be 2014 champion and former world number one Ana Ivanovic. Partner of Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, Ivanovic, 28, has carved out a career worth well over $20m, including a Grand Slam win at the 2008
French Open.


Barring a big upset in the men's draw Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (injury permitting) and John Isner will duke it out for the title.

French world number 10 Tsonga has had a dozen wins around the world and shot to stardom in 2008 when he made it to the Australian Open final as an unseeded player. He has since gone on to earn $24m.

Isner, though, brings arguably the biggest service in the sport. At more than two metres tall, the American bomber can clock speeds of 241.2km/h off his serve.

He is also known for a piece of Wimbledon history. Five years ago, Isner won the longest match ever a mammoth, three-day battle against Nicolas Mahut that ended 70-68 in the fifth set.



Fingers crossed, Auckland's soaked start to the New Year should settle down for tomorrow's opening of the women's tournament.

Morning showers are expected before the weather turns fine for the rest of the day. Overcast skies are forecast through the middle of the week and it should stay dry until Friday and Saturday, when there's more rain on the way.

Moderate winds will take the edge off temperatures expected to be in the mid-20s.

The early call for the start of the men's tournament on Monday week are partly cloudy skies but dry.

Winds are expected to pick up slightly during the week, to around 25km/h, and average temperatures are also expected to dip a little into the low to mid-20s.

Rain, rain go away
Tournament play will be suspended in the event of rain. All daily ticket sales have a 50 per cent rain refund policy.


National MPs Nikki Kaye (left) and Maurice Williamson watching during an ASB Classic match. Photo / Jason Oxenham
National MPs Nikki Kaye (left) and Maurice Williamson watching during an ASB Classic match. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Prepare for the elements:

Sunblock, sunglasses, a hat, regular shade breaks and plenty of water are essential. Some stands are not covered so you'll be at the mercy of the weather. And a rain jacket and umbrella are good ideas, too.

Phones: Either turn your phone off or put it on silent so you don't disturb the players - or embarrass yourself.

Outfit: Let's hope it's hot during the day, but temperatures will dip for evening sessions. Take enough clothing to stay warm.

Photos: You can take photos during play, but you must turn off the flash.

Quiet, please: When a point starts, keep the noise down and stay in your seat. If you need to move, wait until the end of a game when the serve changes.


The Champagne lounge, oyster bar, top fashion and live music are just some of the off-court treats lined up for fans.

Auckland has won tennis' "world best fan experience" award for the past two years and this year's ASB Classic sees the launch of "The Serve", a new entertainment site.

Celebrity chefs Sean Connolly and Al Brown will dish up fine food, including half shell Clevedon coast oysters on salt ice for $21 per half dozen, snapper tacos with Japanese slaw and duck sliders with cucumber for $14 each, and smoked free-range pork spare ribs for $15.

The Moet & Chandon Champagne Lounge - where fans can watch the action and also have a chance to win a $20,000 diamond ring - has been a favourite in the past and returns again this year. And as well as live music from Ladi6 and artists from Fat Freddy's Drop, leading Kiwi designer Juliette Hogan will host the first all white "Ladies That Lunch" event on January 8, women's semifinal day. For $159 a ticket, guests will be treated to a four-course degustation menu, designed by Hogan and served on-court. Star players are expected to make a surprise visit.


Fancy seeing two of tennis' best talents ... and for free? Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic will play an exhibition match on Broadway, Newmarket, from 2pm today (weather dependent).

The clash will take place outside the adidas store. The two glamour girls will then be available for pictures and an autograph session.

Need to know

What: ASB Classic
Where: ASB Tennis Arena, Parnell (just off Stanley Street).
When: January 4-9 (women), January 11-16 (men)