ASB Classic and Heineken Open wild cards handed out following NZ Champs
The esteemed prize of a Heineken Open main draw singles wild card has been awarded to top seed Michael Venus, after he won yesterday’s Pascoes New Zealand Championships. The highest internationally ranked Kiwi battled out a top seed final against second seed and defending champion, Rubin Statham. It was a close contest from New Zealand’s two best male players, with Venus using his booming serve to fight back from a set down, eventually winning 4-6 6-1 6-4.
In the doubles, second seeds Finn Tearney and Wesley Whitehouse upset top-seeded duo Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak to claim the men's doubles title 3-6 7-5 10-5 in a super tie break. Playing in their first tournament as a team, Tearney and Whitehouse were full of confidence to beat the clear tournament favourites and claim a spot in the main draw of the Heineken Open doubles field.
Organisers are now left with one final wild card entry for the Doubles field, with three Kiwi contenders. All three – Venus and the team of Sitak/Daniel – have had career-best years and deserve a chance at the Heineken Open, however only one team will have the opportunity.
“The final doubles wildcard certainly presents us with a tough call,” says Tournament Director, Karl Budge.
“We would have loved to see all three men playing. Finn and Wesley played a great tournament and earned their chance, and we now have a difficult decision to make!”
Meanwhile, defending champion Sacha Jones took out the women’s final against top seed Katherine Westbury, 6-1 5-7 6-4. It was Jones’ fourth NZ Championships crown. The Aucklander raced to a 4-0 lead early before rain suspended play. Following a lengthy delay, the second seeded Jones closed out the opening set 6-1, before Westbury mounted a spirited comeback in the second, sending the decider to a third set where the experienced Jones closed out the match.
In the ladies doubles, Westbury and New Zealand’s highest ranked junior, Rosie Cheng defeated Jones and Abigail Guthrie in the final. Jones and Guthrie would have come in to the match as favourites after their success at this year’s ASB Classic, where they knocked out Marina Erakovic and Cara Black in the first round. However the young duo held their nerve and will now have the chance to replicate that opening day heroics in January.
Auckland’s Claudia Williams has also been given a wildcard into the ASB Classic qualifying draw, in recognition of her overseas performances this year.