Michael Venus has been given a wildcard into the main draw of the ASB Classic, despite barely playing singles over the last three years.

Tournament director Karl Budge says Venus was the "best possible option", offering the most realistic chance of a compelling centre court encounter.

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New Zealand No1 Rubin Statham, who topped Korean Hyeon Chung last year in Auckland, is out injured.


Venus has focused almost exclusively on his doubles game for the last five years and been remarkably successful.

He won the French Open in 2018 alongside Ryan Harrison, and reached the Wimbledon final last year with Raven Klaasen.

Venus has also qualified for the year-ending ATP finals in London three times.

He last played singles in October 2018 in a Davis Cup tie against Korea. But Venus has been competitive, against the odds, at the ASB Classic in the past, highlighted by the unforgettable victory over Alejandro Gomez in 2015, which was the first time a Kiwi had beaten an overseas player at the tournament in more than a decade.

Venus also took a set off then world No28 Feliciano Lopez, before losing in three, in 2017.

He will also play doubles at the ASB Classic with John Peers from Australia. The duo are the top seeds.

Men's ASB Classic singles draw

[1] F Fognini (ITA) - Bye
F Lopez (ESP) v P Andujar (ESP)
Qualifier/Lucky Loser v F Tiafoe (USA)
L Sonego (ITA) v [6] H Hurkacz (POL)
[3] K Khachanov (RUS) - Bye
Qualifier/Lucky Loser v J Millman (AUS)
C Norrie (GBR) v Qualifier/Lucky Loser
[WC] J Sinner (ITA) v [5] B Paire (FRA)
[7] A Mannarino (FRA) v A Seppi (ITA)
[WC] A Davidovich Fokina (ESP) v K Edmund (GBR)
T Sandgren (USA) v [WC] M Venus (NZL)
[4] J Isner (USA) - Bye
[8] R Albot (MDA) v M Cecchinato (ITA)
U Humbert (FRA) v C Ruud (NOR)
J Sousa (POR) v Qualifier/Lucky Loser
[2] D Shapovalov (CAN) - Bye