The 2017 ASB Classic is the ATP Tour stop in Auckland, New Zealand. It’s one more warm-up in the two-week lead-in to the Australian Open, the first major tournament of the tennis season. We’re not expecting to see many big names at this event but a couple of familiar faces should be able to dominate this field. Roberto Bautista Agut is the defending champion and will be back in the fold. He’ll be among the favorites to repeat (according to the betting odds) while American John Isner should also be in the mix. He seems to do well in these fields where there aren’t any elite players but a lot of second and third-tier level players. He’ll try to ride his big serve deep into the ASB Classic.
The competition in the 28-player main draw will begin on Monday, January 9.
Event: ASB Classic
Category: ATP 250 Series
Date: January 9-14, 2017
Location: ASB Tennis Centre – Auckland, New Zealand
With a prize money allotment of nearly $450,000, there’s a reasonable amount of prize money to be pursued in a 28-player tournament. The top four seeds get a bye to the second round, so they’re already in a good position to make this tournament worth their while. That will come in handy when the other players are more fatigued later in the week.
The points structure under the ATP system:
250 – champion
150 – runner-up
90 – semifinal
45 – quarterfinal
20 – round of 16
Former Champions and Results (5 Years)
Year Champion Runner-up Score
2016: Roberto Bautista Agut d. Jack Sock, 6-1, 1-0, ret.
2015: Jiri Vesely d. Adrian Mannarino, 6-3, 6-2
2014: John Isner d. Lu Yen-hsun, 7-6, 7-6
2013: David Ferrer d. Philipp Kohlschreiber, 7-6, 6-1
2012: David Ferrer d. Olivier Rochus, 6-3, 6-4
This is a tournament with familiar faces to the locals in Auckland. The top four seeds are all players who made the final in the past four years. Roberto Bautista Agut is the defending champion at this tournament. He is the number one seed. John Isner won this tournament a few years ago and is number two. David Ferrer has won the event multiple times and is seeded third. Jack Sock, the runner-up last year, is seeded fourth. These four men get the coveted byes, which means they have to play only four matches to win the tournament, not the five matches everyone else would have to play in order to win.
Albert Ramos-Vinolas is seeded fifth, Feliciano Lopez is sixth. Steve Johnson is seventh, and Marcos Baghdatis is eighth.
Of these players, Bautista Agut is by far the most fascinating. He defeated Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Shanghai Masters last October, making his first Masters 1000 final. He has been a very consistent player, but he has not been able to make a deep run at a major tournament. He is hoping that Auckland will prime him for a quarterfinal showing at the Australian Open. He’s advancing in years and might have a window of a few seasons in which he could reach the top eight and perhaps become more of a threat than he’s been to this point.
It’s interesting that Ferrer should also be at this tournament. He found a late-career renaissance a few years ago, the very kind of rise Bautista Agut is eyeing right now. Ferrer, though, seems to have run out of miles. He slowed down last year and did not come close to replicating the results he posted in fruitful 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons. Does he have one last gasp left?
The other mystery player is Jack Sock, who has the serve and the forehand but not the complete game or the stamina needed to be a bigger force in important tournaments. This needs to be a forward-moving year for him in his career, but plenty of analysts are skeptical about how far he can go, and how much he can improve on tour.
ASB Tennis Centre
The facility was created in 1920 and has been renovated at different points along the way in its history. A particularly expansive and significant renovation occurred in 2010. This hotbed of sport, a magnet community for tennis in Auckland and New Zealand, has indoor and outdoor courts, but this event is played on seven outdoor courts with a Rebound Ace playing surface.
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