The ASB Classic has secured one of the most successful male players of the last decade – and organisers are promising there are still more big names to come.
It was confirmed today that Czech Tomas Berdych will make his first visit to Auckland in 2019, after a stellar career.
He has been ranked as high as number four, and has been remarkably consistent.
Berdych is one of only three players to have beaten all members of the 'big four' (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) at grand slams, with the others being Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka.
In any other era Berdych would surely have a few major titles to his name, but the 33-year-old has been unfortunate to be part of arguably the strongest era in men's tennis.
The best example was at Wimbledon in 2010, when Berdych overcame Federer and Djokovic on the way to the final, before being stopped by Nadal in the final.
He's reached the semifinal stage of all four grand slams, the only current active player outside the famous quartet to achieve that feat.
"This deal has been seven years in the making for me," said tournament director Karl Budge. "I've wanted to get him here since I started in this job, but never been able to do it. He'll be a big drawcard for us."
Berdych, who reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open this year before being beaten by Federer, hasn't played since June due to a back injury.
That's seen his ranking slip to 77, though he is projected to finish 2018 in the mid-60's.
He may require a wildcard to play in Auckland — "we would be more than happy to give him one" — but Budge expects the 33-year-old will still make the cut for direct entry.
With his power from the baseline, especially on the forehand side, and booming serve, Berdych will be a strong contender on his first bow in Auckland.
"I have wanted to play the ASB Classic for a long time," said Berdych. "Every year I hear so many good things and I have always wanted to play. I have had a good break and my body is feeling really good. I am looking forward to seeing Auckland for the first time."
Budge hopes to make more announcements in the coming weeks, including some "marquee names", to join former champions Roberto Bautista-Agut and John Isner.
Canadian Denis Shapovalov is still being pursued, though Juan Martin Del Potro looks less likely after his recent injury, but Budge confirmed they were also chasing two former top 10 players.