Andrew Mulligan: Every moment of ASB Classic a gem

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The feistiness displayed by Jelena Ostapenko during her loss to Naomi Broady showed there's plenty of life still left in the ASB Classic. Photo / Getty Images
The feistiness displayed by Jelena Ostapenko during her loss to Naomi Broady showed there's plenty of life still left in the ASB Classic. Photo / Getty Images

"The ASB Classic is on life support now ... very sad" posted one tennis fan on the tournament's Facebook page.

Sad face emoji for them. Maybe they only went for the names or maybe they posted that after watching the tournament on TV.

The next few days proved the tennis is very much alive.

Ana Ivanovic is a diamond encrusted, bona fide tennis celebrity who can run hot or be cold like the free ice she was given by an Auckland jeweller. It's not unexpected.

Venus Williams is a proven champion at the end of a great career and is beloved by fans.

Both falling by the wayside isn't great but it's not a PR disaster.

This tournament used to barely register with sports fans outside the tennis community but now attracts stars and produces results.

Wednesday's match between Naomi Broady and Jelena Ostapenko was a cracking, emotionally charged affair. There were accusations and an exchange at the end between the pair about the defeated Latvian throwing a racquet in a ball-boy's direction.

This is great for the tournament. The hungry are fighting through the seeds and the rounds because their survival hinges on getting paid more, ranking higher and maybe making a Grand Slam.

The higher seeds are generally more cautious with their health, so for tournament director Karl Budge to get the names, he also has to hope he gets them motivated and healthy at the right time. You can't blame them, really. Auckland or Melbourne? A title or a slam?

Svetlana Kuznetsova didn't like the volume of the DJ's music in the public bar during her match and the waiters serving during rallies.

Movement in your peripheral vision would be distracting and this writer has experienced it once as a wee ball boy at the BP Open in Wellington in 1987.

Both [Ivanovic and Williams] falling by the wayside isn't great but it's not a PR disaster.

Jeff Tarango was losing but, more importantly, I needed to pee, badly. I did not care for Tarango's situation, I did not care for the complexities of being a ball boy and choosing the right moment to leave court and I did not care to soil myself in the windswept Renouf Tennis Centre.

So I left.

Boy, did Tarango make a song and dance about it - or so I was told - but I could only hear him amid feelings of relief as an 11-year-old.

Here's the point - should tennis players be able to deal with the noise? Probably.

There's always somebody yelling something during a serve to break a player's concentration or a kid needing to pee.

Golfer Robert Allenby likes to do his partying in Honolulu, not at the Phoenix Open's famous party hole at the 16th, and complained about it.

But these days sport is as much about the spectators as the players. The recent darts world champs showed how it can be done.

Admittedly tennis with a pub atmosphere is a tad far-fetched but worrying about a muffled bit of Yeezy on Serato or the wait staff missing their serving opportunity between games shouldn't be too bad.

Auckland's atmosphere is what makes it so spectator friendly and clearly there's plenty of life in the tournament still.

- NZ Herald

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