The ASB Classic Tournament Director Karl Budge hopes to have Roger Federer back in Auckland for the first time since 2000. That year, the Swiss player lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round. Budge tried to bring in Federer for years, but the Swiss prefers to play in the first week of the season prior to the Australian Open.
'We are the only tournament where Roger has played and never won a match. You could say this and use quotes to add, "So, we would very much like to change that. And hope one day that before he retires, Roger plays in Auckland', said Budge.
'Every tournament would love to have Roger and we are no exception.' In 2019 John Isner, Fabio Fognini and Denis Shapovalov headline the field Rafael Nadal was close to playing in Auckland in 2015, but the Spaniard, who had lost in the opening round of the Qatar Open in Doha that year, rejected the wild card. 'We just tried, it was an opportunity.
We asked, but we understand players' decisions', Budge admitted. In the upcoming edition, many stars on the women's field will play, including Caroline Wozniacki and Julia Goerges. It was rumoured that Maria Sharapova was targeted by Budge a couple of years ago, but he denied it: 'We didn't go after Maria at all.
Sharapova, we didn't target. We haven't spoken to Maria, formally now, for a number of years. So I am not sure where that information came from.' Budge also backed the ATP Cup in Australia, which will attract many top players.
'This new event will make the men's tennis even more popular', he assured. For Auckland, nothing changes: the ASB Classic will keep being played just prior to the Australian Open. Earlier this year Jack Sock took a $100,000 appearance fee but he made a poor effort in losing in the first round.
The organizers were very disappointed about Sock, whose the rich appearance fee even seemed to be at risk. But Budge assured that they have a good relationship with the American, who may return to play the tournament in the future.