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We’re one week into the action of the ASB Classic, New Zealand’s iconic, premier tennis tournament. This year marks the 32nd edition of the women’s event, and the 41st edition of the men’s event, since it all started in Auckland 1956.

2018’s line-up is by many described as the greatest in the event’s history. The tournament director himself, Karl Budge, agrees. “This is clearly the best field I have put together. To have a field that is all within the world’s top 61 players, genuine Grand Slam contenders, nine years’ worth of champions and the most exciting next wave of players is an incredible result “.

As every year, there was great excitement in the air even before the event started last week. We’ve summarized the highlights and some tips on what to do in Auckland, to make sure you’ll be up-to-date on both the pros and the city.

Before we get started, below are the details for this year’s ASB Classic:

When: Monday 1 January 2018, 12.00pm – Saturday 13 January 2018, 11.30pm
Surface: Hard
Where: ASB Tennis Arena, 1 Tennis Lane, Parnell, Auckland
Why should you take the time: “ASB has had the biggest names in the game each year over the past couple of years, and we’re absolutely thrilled with the tournament this year. More than a fan experience, ASB has it all – food, music, and fashion”.

Now, let’s dig in…

The history of ASB Classic in one minute

old picture of female tennis player ASB

Margaret Court, one of the top female tennis players of all times.

The history of ASB goes back to the beginning of the 1900s, when the Auckland Lawn Tennis Association (now called Tennis Auckland) identified a permanent base and collected a, for its time, significant amount of money to build new tennis courts in collaboration with local tennis clubs. The site, located at Stanley Street, became the important home to local tennis matches at the time.

Auckland hosted its first international, lasting tennis tournament in 1956. Back then, it was a joint event for both women and men called the ‘Auckland Championship’. The tournament was known under its sponsored name ‘Benson and Hedges Open’ until 1995, when they changed it to ‘Heineken Open’. In 2016 the women’s and men’s event got merged into one, after being separated for 34 years.

Today, ASB Classic is one of the absolute highlights of the sporting calendar in NZ and a crucial stop in preparation for the year’s first Grand Slam tournament held in Australia two weeks later.  The event has generated millions of dollars for Auckland’s regional GDP. Last year, more than 50, 000 attendees came to experience world-class tennis, in combination with New Zealand’s summer scene at its best.

Players in the spotlight at ASB Classic 2018

With such a strong line-up of players, one could highlight almost every one for different reasons. There are still certain players who have been more in the spotlight ahead of the event’s start this year, and here is an overview of some of the audience favourites.

Caroline Wozniacki, the strongest player in women’s tennis

caroline wozniack playing tennis

Photo: The Independence. Caroline is one of the world’s best female tennis players.

Caroline, the world no 2, finished 2017 as the strongest player in women’s tennis and has continued to perform as well this year. She’s won her two first matches in ASB in just one hour and 51 minutes. The ASB Classic’s favourite made it to final while the whole world was watching in this year’s ASB, but didn’t make it all the way since her opponent Julia Goerges, this time, dominated the game.

Julia Goerges, the ASB Champion

ulia, the 2018 ASB Classic champion

Photo: Nick Reed. Julia, the 2018 ASB Classic champion.

Julia ended up becoming the 2018 ASB Classic champion, beating Caroline Wozniacki 6-4 7-6 (4) in just over 1,5 hours.  The world no 14 didn’t leave anything on the table in this year’s tournament and was one of the players with the strongest performance. She won the first round against 2016 Olympic champion Monica Puig and continued to impress. Apart from starting the year strong, Julia had several victories last year at the Kremlin Cup and the Hengqin Life WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.

Denis Shapovalov, the youngest since Rafael Nadal to break in to the World’s top 50

Denis, one of the world's top tennis players.

Photo: Toronto Star. Denis, one of the world’s top players.

‘Impressive’ isn’t enough to describe this 18-year-old’s accomplishments so far. Denis became the youngest person since Rafael Nadal to break in to the World’s top 50 last year and is one of the main attractions at the men’s ASB Classic. On top of that, he just won the Canadian Press Male Athlete of the Year award, beating other candidates such as the ice hockey star Sidney Crosby. In a nation that is all about ice hockey, this is a proof of what an impact he has had on his country.

Wu Yibing, the best junior in the world

Wu Yibing tennis champion

Photo: Zimbio. Yibing, China’s future top male player.

Yibing, named the Junior World Number One, was busy impressing the world throughout last year. In addition to becoming the first Chinese male to win a Grand Slam event, he reached the Semi-final in both singles and doubles at the Australian Open. China has had several female players in the top for the past years, and the whole country is now hoping that Wu could be the first mainland Chinese male tennis player to make it into the top 100 in the world.

Juan Martin del Potro, the first ever to beat Nadal and Federer in the same major

juan-martin-del-potro winning-tennis championship Stockholm

Juan Martin del Potro won Stockholm Open for the second time 2017.

Juan, ranked no 11 in the world, became the first player ever to beat both Nadal and Federer in the same major in 2009. He’s has a huge fan base and several impressing wins on his track record. A silver medal in the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, his home country Argentina’s first-ever Davis Cup title and more than 20 ATP Tour career titles are just a few examples.

Local talents at ASB

Jade lewis top NZ tennis player

Jade Lewis, one of NZ’s top tennis talents.

NZ’s most promising tennis star, Jade Lewis, played in the main draw at this year’s ASB for her second time. Unfortunately, the tournament ended rather quickly for the Kiwi wildcard after a lost against the Slovakian qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova.

Joanna Carswell, Paige Hourigan, Sacha Jones, Erin Routliffe are other local players who also were granted wildcards into the qualifying tournament.

There are several other players that could be mentioned, such as the first ever Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung, the world no 8 Jack Sock, former champion John Isner and world no 13 Sam Querrey, just to mention a few, all looking to cause upsets the next couple of days.

You can get an overview of all the players on ASB’s website.

More than tennis on site

ASB Classic entertainment

Photo: ASB Classic. The off-court fan experience is on a different level this year.

In addition to possibly the greatest line-up of players in the event’s history, the entertainment on site is also expected to be the best so far.  The off-court fan experience is 80 % bigger this year, offering more space and alternatives in terms of food and activities.

“We understand that tennis isn’t necessarily everyone’s favourite sport in New Zealand, so we needed to broaden the entertainment offering,” explained ASB’s tournament director Karl Budge.

Sunday Sweet Spot, a stylish session in the sun, featuring an exciting line-up of music including Weird Together SoundSystem, The Peacekeepers, Sunshine Sound System, Dylan C and Chicorelli, will be introduced at the event for the first time.

The chic ASB Classic Garden Lunch also took place this year again,  where guests could enjoy a three course degustation lunch matched with wines.

The future is bright

Kids playing tennis at ASB Classic.

Kids playing tennis at ASB Classic.

ASB has had a 230 % increase in profitability in five years, and the growth trend is projected to continue. The profit from the tournaments play a crucial role in strengthening the tennis scene and its future stars, by helping kids to get into the game as well as with providing them with a pathway towards success.

What to see in Auckland in between the tennis sets

Auckland summer city

Photo: Eventfinda. Auckland will keep you busy in a good way, no matter what your interests are.

When you have time over in between your favourite games, there is plenty to explore in Auckland. With an exceptional mix of exciting city life, beautiful nature, fashionable people from all over the world, culture, spectacular black sand beaches and adventure, we can guarantee that you won’t regret coming here.

If you’re into water sports and action, surfing, paddle boarding, or a kayak trip to one of our volcanos may be your cup of tea. Auckland’s surfing spots are well-known globally and located a 20-30 mins drive from the CBD. The harbour, which is one of the most vibrant tourism and entertainment hubs in NZ, is soon to be the next America’s Cup location in 2021. If you like hiking, you’ll be able to cross the country in just 5 hours by following the coast-to-coast walkway.

Auckland is also known for its fantastic bars with top mixologists creating innovative drinks, delicious coffee, and diverse food. If you have a spare day and want to escape the city for a while, Waiheke island is a 30-min ferry ride away. You can also get to the island in just 15 minutes with a novel Seaplane flight or a helicopter. Here you will find beautiful beaches and some of the country’s best vineyards. We did in fact write a post about some of our favourites recently.

We could go on and on about Auckland, but will save that for a future post. Meanwhile, please feel free to get in touch directly for personal recommendations or check out our previous post about how to spend 24 hours in Auckland.

ASB Classic the Black Label Way

Are you coming to NZ for ASB Classic? No matter if you’re looking for a VIP experience on site, Auckland’s hidden gems or a combination of both, we’ll be able to create a custom experience. Get in touch and tell us more about what you’re looking for. We would be happy to tell you how we could make it happen.