One of the smash hits of the Auckland summer will light up the City of Sails from tomorrow – with some of tennis' biggest names set to unleash their power at the ASB Classic.
The action starts tomorrow with the women's ASB Classic running through until Saturday. Next Monday, the men's tournament will begin, with the final to be played on January 18.
Among the headliners will be former women's World No 1 Serena Williams who will be hoping for a much happier time on the court than her previous time here for the 2017 event.
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After being bundled out in just the second round, she immediately after took aim at some unseasonal windy weather she'd encountered.
"At least I can get out of these conditions so I can get somewhere better, and warmer weather too," she said after her loss to Madison Brengle.
"I would say it's my least favourite conditions I've ever played in. I really abhorred these conditions."
But off the court things were much brighter, with Williams announcing her engagement to Alexis Ohanian from a private beach on Waiheke Island.
Who to watch
It won't just be Williams to watch out for over the next week in the women's tournament.
Fellow former No 1 and tennis bestie Caroline Wozniacki is also determined to make an impact in what will be her final ASB Classic appearance before retiring later this year.
Late last year she told the Herald she understood Williams was also on a mission to make amends in Auckland.
"I think she thought about it and she realised that Auckland would be a great place to start the year," Wozniacki said.
"And, you know, everyone can change their opinion and I think she is thrilled to be back."
The pair will team up in the women's doubles competition.
Other star players on show will be Canadian star and former World No 5 Eugenie Bouchard, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and Russia star Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The men's field also features an impressive array of stars, including former winner John Isner, highly-rated American Frances "Big Foe" Tiafoe, Russia's Karen Khachanov and fellow Russian and World No 4 Daniil Medvedev.
World No 12, Italian star Fabio Fognini also confirmed last month he would be playing.
"Fabio is one of the true entertainers on the ATP Tour," tournament director Karl Budge said.
"He is quite possibly the most naturally talented guy on tour. His array of shot making is unbelievable and is always entertainment plus. That is really important for us to have that variety and contrast of styles."
Tucking in court-side
One of the nicest spots to wine, dine – and be seen – will again be the Moët & Chandon Ice Rocks Lounge.
The venue will combine fine dining with a "cool and relaxed poolside vibe", with guests able to set up base in cabanas, deck chairs or bean bags and watch the action on a big screen.
Other food outlets include Maison de L'Or offering a range of French fare, Hawker & Roll with its Malaysian street-eats taste sensations, Lobster & Trap will be serving lobster rolls, The Bach's menu includes a range of hot and cold items including sushi, baguettes and steamed pork buns, and The Stanley will be serving a range of platters.
For those who have worked up a thirst, the Heineken Bar will be a must-visit, serving food as well as full-strength, half-strength and non-alcoholic Heineken. The Babich Wine Bar will also be offering a selection of some of New Zealand's best wines, plus tapas-style dishes.
It won't just be some of world tennis' most exciting names entertaining the crowds who head to the 2020 ASB Classic.
A host of local artists will also be performing live during the two-week tournament as part of the Beats on the Serve initiative.
And one of the Classic's most-loved off-court events will also be back this year, the Moët & Chandon Ice Rocks Long Lunch.
Guests will enjoy a stylish afternoon of fresh New Zealand cuisine, ice cold Moët and exciting entertainment, all poolside within the ultra-chic Moët & Chandon Ice Rocks Lounge
It has an all-white and rosé theme, so guests are encouraged to don their best tennis whites and incorporate pops of pink into their outfit.
• Don't talk or make noise between points
• Don't stand up until the end of a point
• Don't heckle or boo
• Turn your phone off or to silent
• Don't use the flash on your camera or phone when taking photos
• Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated
• Do dress up (if you want to)
Serena Williams may not get the lovely weather she was hoping for during her latest appearance in Auckland.
Opening day of the ASB Classic tomorrow is set to feature morning rain, strengthening southwesterly winds and fine spells.
Southwesterlies are expected for the remainder of the week during the women's tournament, also with the possibility of some showers among a mix of cloudy and sunny weather.
The MetService is yet to make a projection for the second week of the ASB Classic when the men will do battle at the Stanley St complex.
Tickets are still available for most days of the tournament, including from as little as $14.
Tournament officials have previously issued warnings to would-be event-goers to only buy tickets from official supplier Ticketek, saying they "cannot guarantee" the authenticity of tickets from unlicensed sellers.
For more information and availability, visit: https://www.asbclassic.co.nz/tickets/