Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Tennis: Two Kiwis in men's main ASB Classic draw

Michael Venus in action. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Michael Venus in action. Photo / Jason Oxenham

There will be two Kiwis in the main draw of the ASB Classic, with Michael Venus handed a wildcard on Saturday.

After American Taylor Fritz was a late withdrawal, tournament director Karl Budge used his spare wildcard to reward Venus, who has been a strong performer at the ASB Classic over the past two years.

Venus made history in 2015 with the first ATP singles win by a New Zealander in more than a decade and last year pushed fringe top 10 player Benoit Paire close.

However, Venus was handed one of the toughest possible draws, as he will meet hard hitting Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. The world No28 boasts wins over Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro and is the sixth seed next week.

Fellow Kiwi Artem Sitak - who gained his direct entry to the main draw by winning the New Zealand Championships in December over Finn Tearney - also received no favours at the draw, pitted against Jeremy Chardy.

The Frenchman has been as high as No25 in the world, and has reached the last eight at the Australian Open.

The third wildcard was awarded to Dustin Brown, the flamboyant part Jamaican, part German. The World No64 boasts a win over Nadal and has been compared to Gael Monfils in his style.

Other matches to catch the eye in the first round include Adrian Mannarino against Marcos Bagdahtis and Horacio Zeballos facing 2015 champion Jiri Vesely.​

- NZ Herald

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