The 33-year-old American veteran Bethanie Mattek-Sands has received a wild card for the upcoming ASB Classic in Auckland despite being ranked outside the top-350 on the WTA singles list! The reigning US Open mixed doubles winner is a former world number 1 in doubles and the top-30 player in singles, making her second appearance in Auckland after losing in the opening round in 2016.
Bethanie will almost certainly compete in the doubles draw as well but she will have to find a new partner after the retirement of Lucie Safarova with whom she won many titles between 2015-17. A year and a half ago, Mattek-Sands was at the top of her game but she suffered a terrible knee injury at Wimbledon, missing all the action until Miami this March and having to start all over again just after turning 33.
Her singles results were very poor and the doubles run was not much better either, entering the last eight at Wimbledon with Safarova but claiming just two wins in the rest of the season! The only great result came in the mixed doubles, going all the way with Jamie Murray to claim the US Open crown, gaining the necessary boost that will keep her fighting in 2019 when she will chase more notable singles results and the best possible doubles partner in order to regain the higher position on the ranking list.
The 21-year-old Paige Mary Hourigan, the best-ranked New Zealand player should also receive a wild card and join Caroline Wozniacki, Julia Goerges, Venus Williams and Victoria Azarenka.
"Beth is one of the most entertaining and colorful players on the tour," Classic tournament director Karl Budge said. "She's won multiple Grand Slams and Olympic medals, but it's her personality and flair that makes her stand out.
Bethanie will be the very first international tennis player to head to Stewart Island, which is fantastic for New Zealand and Stewart Island locals. Her husband Justin is really keen on the outdoors as well so it’s great that they get to go on this adventure together!"