A day before the full field is released, another rising star of women's tennis has been signed for Auckland's ASB Classic in January.

Hard on the heels of 15-year-old Coco Gauff whose signing was confirmed on Sunday, the second-youngest player in the top 100, 18-year-old Amanda Anisimova has been revealed as the fifth signing, having played in Auckland as a wildcard last January.

The American is ranked 24th in the world and would surely have ended the year higher had her season not been abruptly curtailed by the sad passing of her father Konstantin just before the US Open in August.

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Anisimova rocketed into the spotlight with a stunning run to the French Open semifinals in Paris in June. She crushed defending champion Simona Halep in the quarter-finals before losing to eventual winner Ash Barty in three sets. She won her first career WTA title in April on clay in Bogota.

Amanda Anisimova recently lost her father. Photo / Photosport
Amanda Anisimova recently lost her father. Photo / Photosport

Tournament director Karl Budge is thrilled Anisimova has repaid the faith he showed in her by giving her a wildcard when she was ranked 96th in the world at the start of the year. She went on to reach the quarter-finals.

"It's just another great signing for the ASB Classic," Budge said. "Amanda was projected to finish the season around the top ten earlier in the year and is ranked 24 at the moment. When you think she missed a large proportion of the season due to the sad passing of her father prior to the US Open, it just shows what a talent she is."

The 1.8m tall Anisimova has drawn comparisons with Maria Sharapova, and her game is also similar to the former world number one.

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"She is very Maria Sharapova-esque and is managed by the same manager," Budge said. "Amanda trains in Bradenton in Florida the same way Maria did and there are a lot of similarities there. She has a very cool demeanour and a big powerful game and another one of these players you will see at the pointy end of women's tennis for the next decade."

Amanda Anisimova joins the likes of Serena Williams to play in next year's ASB Classic. Photo / Photosport
Amanda Anisimova joins the likes of Serena Williams to play in next year's ASB Classic. Photo / Photosport

Anisimova joins US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, two-time defending champion Julia Goerges and 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff in what is shaping as the most high profile field ever assembled in Auckland.

Budge is understandably glowing a day out from the full field announcement.

"This must be the best lineup of sport this country has seen. I can't think of a time that you have had this level of global true star power and relevance on any given week of sport in this country. It's a staggeringly good lineup and certainly the best I have been able to put together"


There is inevitably late movement as players finalise their plans for the start of the new season.

A majority of the top 30 players will head to Brisbane where the prize money is $US1.5 million dollars, five times that of Auckland. Some will head to the Shenzhen Open in China which carries more than double the prize money of Auckland.

Tournament director Karl Budge. Photo / Photosport
Tournament director Karl Budge. Photo / Photosport

"A player said to me yesterday I am not going to enter Auckland because I want to play a lesser field as I might not get enough matches. It's a sign of respect of the strength of the field we will have this year," Budge said.

But Budge is confident he will unveil one or two surprises at tomorrow's announcement.

He's hopeful there will be more Grand Slam singles champions. Former Australian Open Caroline Wozniacki has been coy on her plans for 2020 but has been a regular visitor to Auckland over the past few years.

"If things end the way they are at the moment we would expect to have a player ranked higher than Amanda who would be our third seed," he said. "But it's difficult to know and we have already seen one player today switch tournaments that we weren't expecting.

"But we have to wait and see until the entries close and there are a couple of players who haven't entered anywhere so we have to see what they do."

Budge says fans will be in for a treat on the opening couple of days of the tournament where there will be a scramble to get on centre court.

"Without question, Monday and Tuesday (6th and 7th January) will be the best tickets to buy. We only have three matches on centre court each day over the first round, and you are guaranteed to see absolute star power on both those days with Serena Williams, Bianca Andreescu, Coco Gauff, Anisimova and Julia Goerges all featuring. I have the goal of absolutely selling out the ASB Classic this year."