Will Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic play at ASB Classic?

When Juan Martin del Potro last played in Auckland in 2009, he won the tournament.

When Juan Martin del Potro last played in Auckland in 2009, he won the tournament.

Are Juan Martin del Potro or Marin Cilic heading to Auckland for January's ASB Classic?

The full field for the ATP tournament will be announced on Wednesday and organisers have dropped a big hint that they've secured a star player.

The press release for Wednesday's event says a Grand Slam winner is heading to Auckland for the men's tournament.

Marin Cilic and Juan Martin played against each other in the Davis Cup final last weekend. Will one of them next play in ...

Marin Cilic and Juan Martin played against each other in the Davis Cup final last weekend. Will one of them next play in Auckland?

If this mystery person turns out to be a doubles player, then they've severely beat up their announcement to drum up media interest and they can expect a backlash.

READ MORE
Argentina No 1 in tennis
ASB Classic reaches new levels
Fritz joins field for ASB Classic

Hopefully that's not the case and it is a singles player, which means there are only a couple of options.

Since the 2005 French Open there have only been seven players who've won a grand slam and it's safe to assume that Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal won't be making an appearance in Auckland the week before the Australian Open.

It's also unlikely that Stan Wawrinka will be coming.

He hasn't played in a tournament the week before the Australian Open since 2008.

Big name players like to practice rather than play the week before Grand Slams these days and Wawrinka is no different, although he did play in a tournament the week before Roland Garros this year, but that was at the Geneva Open and with him being Swiss he can hardly miss that.

Ad Feedback

It just leaves Cilic, who won the US Open in 2014, and 2009 US Open champion del Potro.

There had been suggestions over the last couple of months that Cilic and del Potro had both declined the opportunity to play in Auckland.

But they could have had a change of heart,  aided by a huge appearance fee.

Cilic's only appearance in Auckland was in 2008, losing to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round.

He is ranked six in the world, but has never been able to repeat the success he had in New York two years years ago.

Del Potro, who last weekend helped Argentina win the Davis Cup, coincidently against Cilic's country of Croatia, is the more likely option.

He won the Auckland tournament in 2009 and made the usual promises afterwards that he'd be back.

That didn't happen as he went on to be one of the biggest names in the sport shortly afterwards, but the timing could be right for a return in 2017.

He played just six tournaments in 2014 and 2015 because of wrist injuries and in February this year was down to 1045 in the world rankings.

But he's fought his way back, making it to the final at the Rio Olympics and is now ranked 38.

Coming to Auckland would be a convenient stop off on his way to Melbourne, now there's a direct flight from Buenos Aires to Auckland and then he can get the three-hour flight to Melbourne.

As the two Auckland tournaments have the same sponsor these days, there's less of a need for them to have equally strong fields, but the cost of tickets is still more for the men's event and with the likes of the Williams sisters, Caroline Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic the men's field real could do with a high profile player.

Roberto Bautista Agut and David Ferrer (these days) really aren't in that category.

All will be revealed at 10am on Wednesday, so let's hope tournament director, Karl Budge makes the announcement that it's Cilic or del Potro coming and not Ivan Dodig or Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback