Tennis: Kiwis in charge on Centre Court

Pole Agnieszka Radwanska practises yesterday. Picture / Brett Phibbs
Pole Agnieszka Radwanska practises yesterday. Picture / Brett Phibbs

It's fair to say Centre Court hasn't been flush with Kiwis in recent years, but tonight three will feature at the same time.

In a dream doubles draw to kick-start a fortnight of festivities at Stanley St, No2 seeds Heather Watson, of Great Britain, and Kiwi Marina Erakovic, will face off across the net against young New Zealand pair Paige Hourigan and Claudia Williams at the ASB Classic in Auckland.

As the last match on the draw before people begin their New Year's Eve celebrations in earnest, there should be a cracking atmosphere at one of sport's great boutique venues.

It will also ensure New Zealand representation in the second round of the doubles, with Erakovic and Watson heavily favoured to advance past the promising pair. With a combined age of 31, you would not blame Hourigan, 15, and Williams for a bout of nerves before the match, but by making her way through to the finals of the NZ Tennis Championships recently, Hourigan has already demonstrated the fearlessness of youth.

Earlier today, three former champions will step on to Centre Court.

Greta Arn, the 2011 champion, will try to negotiate her way into the main draw as she meets Thailand's Nudnida Luangnam in the final round of qualifying.

Yanina Wickmayer, who, as defending champion, lost to Arn in that final, plays Slovakian Magdalena Rybarikova in the afternoon session. In the evening session, 2012 champion Zheng Jie plays American Jamie Hampton.

In another feature match on Centre Court, two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will play Dutch-woman Kiki Bertens.

Meanwhile, top seed Agnieszka Rad-wanska has arrived after a mis-communication saw her miss Saturday's media event and draw. The world No4 practised yesterday at the venue.

Order of play

Centre Court 10am: [Q] Greta Arn (HUN) v Nudrida Luangnam (THA)

Not before noon: WC Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) v Elena Vesnina (RUS)

Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) v Kiki Bertens (NED)

Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) v 3 Yanina Wickmayer (BEL)

Not before 7pm: 4 Zheng Jie v Jamie Hampton (USA)

Paige Hourigan / Claudia Williams (NZL) v 2 Heather Watson (GBR) / Marina Erakovic (NZL)

Court 4

10am: [Q] Julie Coin (FRA) v Stephanie Dubois (CAN)

7 Christina McHale (USA) v Pauline Parmentier (FRA)

WC Eleni Daniilidou (GRE) v WC Coco Vandeweghe (USA)

Johanna Larsson (SWE) v Misaki Doi (JPN)

Court 2

10am: [Q] Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) v Luksika Kumkhum (THA)

Grace Min (USA) or Jill Craybas (USA) v Maryna Zanevska (UKR)

Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) v Kirsten Flipkens (BEL)

Simona Halep (ROU) v Arantxa Rus (NED)Triple treat for fans as three New Zealanders share the limelight in first round of doubles at Stanley Street

- NZ Herald

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