John Isner confirmed for Auckland tournament
American John Isner is returning to Auckland to defend his Heineken Open tennis title this summer.
Isner has a rich history at the New Zealand Festival of Tennis, also winning the Auckland title in 2010.
This year's success - he beat Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu 7-6 7-6 in the final - has launched a season where he is pushing towards US$1m for the year in prizemoney despite hiccups with ankle and back injuries. He has a 29-15 win-loss record this year.
He recently won the Atlanta Open for his second success of the year and is zeroing in on US$7m in career prizemoney.
He broke into the top 10 for a career high ranking of No 9 at the end of March though he has slipped out to be No 15.
"The Heineken Open has been unreal for me. I have won it twice and always feel really comfortable there," Isner, 29, said in a statement confirming his Auckland defence.
"It really helped set my season up and was an amazing way to kick off 2014. I'm really excited to be heading back to New Zealand to defend my title."
Isner's name is the first confirmed major entry to the Auckland event. Tournament director Karl Budge heads to the US Open that starts in New York next week with an eye on signing more top talent for both the Heineken Open and women's ASB Classic.
"We're so excited to welcome back our Heineken Open defending champion. John loves this tournament and I know it is close to his heart as it's the only tournament he has won outside of the United States," Budge said.
"Both fields are shaping up nicely, with September being a big month for securing players following the US Open. Watch this space!"