The ASB Classic is targeting two top-15 ranked male players for 2018, as it aims to draw the strongest men's field to Auckland in years.

There's also a possibility - albeit extremely slight - that 12-time grand slam winner Novak Djokovic could be lured to city for the first time.

Over the last few years the women's event has dominated Auckland's tennis fortnight, with the presence of much bigger names than in the second week.

Serena Williams was a massive drawcard this year and other global stars like Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Venus Williams have given the female event top billing.


The men's event hasn't had the same box office appeal, for several reasons, but tournament director Karl Budge is determined to change that.

"We are targeting two players in and around top 10," Budge told the Herald on Sunday. "They are not regulars but we are trying to be innovative and do what we can to make something work."

It's become increasingly difficult to lure the big guns to Auckland, simply because more and more of the top players choose not to play an ATP event in the week before the Australian Open, instead opting to play exhibitions or train in Melbourne. Auckland has still done well, gaining more top-25 players than Sydney over the last few years, but Budge wants to make a statement this year.

Budge was coy on names, but it's likely one or both of Dominic Thiem and David Goffin are among his current targets. Thiem came to Auckland in 2015 as the world No37, losing in the first round. Since then the 23-year-old Austrian has risen to No7 in the rankings and reached the semifinals at Roland Garros twice. Belgian world No12 Goffin, who played the ASB Classic in 2013, has reached the last eight at both the Australian and French Opens.

Germany's Alex Zverev may also be on the radar, and the World No8 would draw much bigger crowds than he did as an ASB Classic qualifier in 2014.

Previous Auckland favourites like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Juan Martin del Potro won't be in the mix next year.

However, most of the other familiar names like Roberto Bautista-Agut, John Isner and reigning champion Jack Sock are expected to line up again, while four-time winner David Ferrer has promised to return if he extends his career into 2018.

Budge also remains in conversation with Djokovic's representatives. The Serbian has never played in Auckland and it remains a long shot, although he may be open to a change in schedule to target match play in January ahead of the Australian Open, after missing the last few months of this season with injury.

"You always keep the door open with someone like him," said Budge. "We've had some conversations and you want to maintain that relationship. But it's not an insignificant sum of money to get Novak."