Latest 14 Dec 2012

Another former top 10 player for Heineken Open

Another former top 10 player for Heineken Open

Former world no. 7 Gael Monfils has been given a wildcard for next year’s Heineken Open – taking the number of former top 10 players to four.

The Frenchman, who knocked over Rafael Nadal in straight sets earlier this year, joins world no. 5 David Ferrer, former world no.2 Tommy Haas and former world no. 8 Jurgen Melzer in what is shaping up as one of the best men’s fields to come here.

Monfils is renowned as being one of the most entertaining players on the men’s tour and is affectionately known as ‘Sliderman’ for his athleticism on court.

The 26-year-old has won four ATP titles, made 13 finals and was ranked no. 7 in the world in July last year after consistently sitting in the top 20 since 2008. He is a former Wimbledon, Roland Garros and Australian Open junior champion and has reached two Master finals.

Heineken Open Tournament Director Karl Budge says it’s a real bonus for Kiwi tennis fans to have a fourth former top 10 player coming to Auckland.

“When we named the full field a couple of weeks ago, I was delighted to see the ranking cut off as low as 61. Adding Monfils to that lineup is the icing on the cake.

“Monfils is often described as the player, outside the big four, who has the game to win a Grand Slam. And we all know what an entertainer he is. He loves to play up to the crowd.”

The two-time French junior 100m champion started 2012 strongly reaching the final in Doha after beating Nadal in the semifinals. He went on to the third round at the Australian Open and reached the Montpellier final in February before losing to Tomas Berdych.

Monfils, who has made one appearance in Auckland in 2007, struggled with a knee injury for the latter part of the year but still made the semifinals in Metz in September. He is now ranked at 77 in the world.

Earlier this week Budge gave his first wildcard to this year’s Heineken Open finalist Olivier Rochus. He has one more wildcard to allocate.

Defending champion Ferrer (Spain) is the tournament’s top seed, followed by Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber (20), Haas (21), USA’s Sam Querrey (22), Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz (26), Austria’s Melzer (29) and ATP newcomer of the year Martin Klizan of Slovakia (30).

The Heineken Open runs from 7-12 January 2013 and tickets are on sale through Ticketek. All centre court matches will be screened live on SKY TV from the start of play at midday.

Qualifying for the Heineken Open is on 5 and 6 January at the North Harbour Tennis Centre in Albany. Players will be chasing four spots in the main draw. Play starts at 10am and the entry fee is $5.