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

Michael Burgess: Exit of stars no fault of organisers

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Nobody expected Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic to be gone so soon, especially given their outstanding performances here in the past. Photo / Getty / Jason Oxenham
Nobody expected Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic to be gone so soon, especially given their outstanding performances here in the past. Photo / Getty / Jason Oxenham

The ASB Classic has taken a major hit but "fans" who are voicing their anger on social media don't understand the nature of sport, especially tennis.

Nobody expected Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic to be gone so soon, especially given their outstanding performances here in the past.

But it happens, especially early in the season.

READ MORE:

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The 35-year-old Williams plays a high risk game, relying on overwhelming her opponents with a deluge of winners. When her radar is off, as it was on Tuesday, and she faces someone who returns everything, she is vulnerable.

Ivanovic is always a nervy starter at tournaments, and faced a qualifier who had been tuned up by three tough games. Naomi Broady played the game of her life - Ivanovic compared her serving performance to Serena Williams - and the second seed was gone.

But there is no suggestion that either player "tanked", or gave up. They are both too competitive for that, and desperately needed the match fitness at this time of year.

The pair have been loyal to Auckland, as both players could receive greater financial incentives to play elsewhere. They are also two of the more obliging stars on the tour in terms of fulfilling media and sponsor commitments.

It was a disaster for the profile of the tournament, but won't affect the bottom line, as most of the tickets have already been sold. And it could have actually been worse; the WTA tournament in Brisbane this week lost drawcards Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep before it had started, with the European duo pulling out with injuries, as did Serena Williams at the Hopman Cup.

The tournament - and Auckland fans - have been fortunate over the past three years, as the marquee names have reached the final on each occasion. But look at the champions before that; Zheng Jie, Greta Arn, Yanina Wickmayer.

Tennis is an unpredictable contest and that is what makes it so appealing.

If there was one question mark, one might ask why Venus Williams was gallivanting around with some All Blacks on Monday for a sponsor's commercial, less than 48 hours after she arrived in the country?

Ideally, she would have been resting but without sponsorship appearances it wouldn't be possible to bring these tennis stars to the country.

- NZ Herald

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

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. He was named the 2013 New Zealand football writer of the year and was a finalist in the Sports Reporter of the year at the 2014 Canon Media Awards.

Read more by Michael Burgess

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