The ASB Classic has had a 32-year history, and for their 33rd edition of the tournament, they will welcome a star-studded line-up with former world number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka headlining the draw. However, they will certainly miss some of the biggest stars they have ever hosted, with the Williams sisters and Kuznetsova opting not to participate this year. The tournament is rather popular amongst the players, having been voted as the “best Asia/Pacific International tournament of the year” on the past three occasions.
Top seeds look to replicate their success
Former semifinalist Barbora Strycova would be returning to Auckland for the fifth time in her career, hoping to improve on her best result. The Czech will be the third seed for the tournament, just ahead of 2013 champion Agnieszka Radwanska, whose ranking recently dipped to 28 due to a loss of form. This will just be the Pole’s second appearance in this tournament.
This year’s quarterfinal thriller between Julia Goerges and Caroline Wozniacki could occur in the final in 2018 after both of them are slated to be the top seeds in Auckland. Coincidentally, they have both been runner-ups here but have never hoisted the trophy. It would be Wozniacki’s fourth time participating in this tournament, while Goerges will look to claim the title on her eighth attempt, having participated in this tournament for eight consecutive years and reaching the quarterfinals four times.
Rounding off the seeds
Fifth seed Mona Barthel is an active participant here in Auckland, with her best result being a semifinal appearance back in 2013. However, she has been winless in the main draw since then, going 0-4 in her first-round matches in the previous years. Defending champion Lauren Davis would return to Auckland as the sixth seed, and she has impressively reached the quarterfinals here on three different occasions. Looking to have another successful run, the American has a ton of points to defend as well.
The list of seeds concludes with Yulia Putintseva and Donna Vekic, with the Kazakh having unsuccessful campaigns in 2014 and 2015. The Croatian opted to start her year in Auckland for the first time in her career, while Putintseva is winless during her previous appearances. Nonetheless, they would look to grab some confidence-boosting wins to start their seasons.
Talented youngsters Marketa Vondrousova and Beatriz Haddad Maia will be having their first full season on the WTA Tour, and they have decided to start their year in Auckland. They will be joined by former Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens and Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig.
Madison Brengle, who was able to be the only player in 2017 to defeat Serena Williams with a magical victory against the legendary American in Auckland this year, also returns hoping to look for a similar result. Former world number one and two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka has also received a wildcard into the tournament, making her return to tennis after a series of family issues. (NOTE: Azarenka has withdrawn from the tournament shortly after, with her wildcard being handed to Sara Errani instead)
Other notable names include Sara Errani and the returning Margarita Gasparyan, who would be participating in the qualifying rounds for a place in the main draw. (NOTE: Sara Errani has taken over Azarenka's wildcard after the Belarusian announced her withdrawal.)
Other participating players
Americans Varvara Lepchenko, Taylor Townsend, and Christina McHale would return to Auckland once again, with their best results being a second-round exit. Making their debuts in the main draw would be Veronica Cepede Royg and Hsieh Su-wei, whereas Alison Van Uytvanck, Lara Arruabarrena, Petra Martic, and Polona Hercog have yet to win a match in Auckland in their previous appearances. Former quarterfinalists Johanna Larsson and Nao Hibino would also look to replicate their runs once more.