OK, so the top two seeds are headed for the airport and the next jet-airliner bound for Melbourne ... but the ASB Classic continues in their absence.

Just like the end of The Truman Show, life (and tennis) still exists outside the bubble of the Williams travelling road show.

While the departure of Serena and Venus leaves a vacuum over Auckland's Stanley St venue, there are still eight reasons to continue watching ... and they'll all be on court for today's quarterfinals.

Barbora Strycova (Czech Republic)
As fourth seed, she is now a projected finalist and has arrived at the quarter-finals by bouncing fellow Czechs (see what we did there?) Barbora Stefkova and Lucie Safarova.


Her marathon three-set victory over Safarova yesterday was an instant classic and probably the best match of the tournament so far. How much she has left in the tank after that energy-sapper remains to be seen.

If the draw unfolds as expected (it hasn't so far), Strycova would meet Caroline Wozniacki for the title. On world rankings, she sits one spot behind the Dane, who beat her in the 2015 ASB Classic semifinals.

Lauren Davis (United States)
Another regular visitor to Auckland, Davis also reached the 2015 semis, before losing to eventual champion, ahem, Venus Williams. En route, she defeated American Sloane Stephens, who would return the following year to claim the 2016 title.

Ranked 61, her CV includes some excellent performances against some of the world's best players - she's reached Day Four with straight-set wins over Belgian fifth seed Kiki Bertens and Japan's Kurumi Nara.

Madison Brengle (United States)
A first-time visitor to Auckland, she will always henceforth be known as the player who party-pooped the Serena Williams Show.

Ranked 72 in the world, she had no right to be competitive with debatably the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) in women's tennis, but made a quick reputation for herself by picking on the biggest bully in the bar and beating him (um, her).

She's a scrapper, she toppled world No.8 Petra Kvitova last February, but maybe she's already produced her best performance of the week.

Madison Brengle addresses the media after her shock win against Serena Williams. Photo / Dean Purcell
Madison Brengle addresses the media after her shock win against Serena Williams. Photo / Dean Purcell

Serena Williams post loss press conference


Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)

The WTA's 2016 Newcomer of the Year impressed with her performances in the early rounds of last year's ASB Classic, and went to record wins over Wozniacki at New Haven and Kvitova at Birmingham.

She completely demolished local favourite Marina Erakovic in the first round on Monday and dispatched Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni yesterday.

The teenage seventh seed struggled with her serve, throwing down nine double faults against MLB, but has power and looms as a real dark horse in what's left of this field.

Ana Konjuh (Croatia)
Perhaps the most intriguing character in this cast, Konjuh was shoulder-tapped by ASB Classic director Karl Budge as a 15-year-old and promised a three-year entry into the tournament.

At the time, she was world junior No.1 and has since become the youngest player to win a WTA singles title in a decade, taking out Nottingham in 2015.

The eighth seed 19-year-old needed less than an hour to dismantle former champion Yanina Wickmayer yesterday and is destined to become a future crowd favourite at this event.

Naomi Osaka (Japan)
Osaka sits one spot behind quarter-final rival Konjuh on the world rankings and she's also 19, but surprisingly, they've never met.

The world No. 48 brought a big reputation to her ASB Classic debut, she needed two days to overcome German Annika Beck in the rain-affected opening round, but enjoyed some R&R yesterday, when Venus defaulted their second-round fixture.

Osaka will be well rested, but will have to overcome her disjointed schedule so far this week.

Naomi Osaka (JPN) in action against Annika Beck (GER). Photo / Dean Purcell
Naomi Osaka (JPN) in action against Annika Beck (GER). Photo / Dean Purcell

Julia Goerges (Germany)

Already an ASB Classic favourite, this is her eighth visit to Auckland, having never quite gone all the way. Her best finish so far was runner-up to Stephens last year.

While Goerges peaked at No.15 in the world in 2012, her ranking has since slipped outside the tournament headliners, but she remains the unseeded player you'd least want to meet in an environment (think wind and rain) she's well used to.

Her match-up with Wozniacki in the quarter-finals will provide the glamour on a day when spectators are reeling from the Williams' shock exodus.

Game, Set and Match Podcast Jan 4

Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
Now Serena and Venus are gone, the former world No.1 is presumptive favourite to claim the title that has eluded her on three previous occasions.

She appeared to be on a different planet to everyone else, while ousting American Nicole Gibbs in the first round and was more workmanlike against experienced American Varvara Laepchenko.

Amid all the hype generated by Serena Williams, Wozniacki has almost escaped the limelight this year, but now is her time to shine.