4 Jan 2020

Grand Slam Champions go head to head

by Rhonda Karl
Grand Slam Champions go head to head

A battle between multiple Grand Slam champions will take centre stage in the first round of the 2020 ASB Classic.

Top seed and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams will face off against two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round. Williams and Kuznetsova will go head to head for the 14th time with Williams leading their record 10-3.

Tournament Director Karl Budge says it’s a first-round battle worthy of a Grand Slam final.

“It’s a huge clash – something you’d probably see in the final of a Grand Slam – let alone the first round of an international (level event). It’s a great way to kick off the tournament.”

The top seeded Williams was drawn in a highly competitive quarter alongside American teen phenomena Coco Gauff and seventh seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. The 15-year-old Gauff who burst onto the tennis radar after her run at Wimbledon will go up against 56th ranked Slovakian Victoria Kuzmova - who made the semi-finals of last year's ASB Classic.  2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko will take on Germanys Laura Siegemund.

Another rising American star and the tournament’s 3rd seed Amanda Anisimova is also on William's side of the draw and will meet Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova.

In the bottom half of the draw Caroline Wozniacki in her final trip to the ASB Classic will take on kiwi wild-card Paige Hourigan which will no doubt have the crowd on their feet and the champagne flowing. The Danish star and former world number one will retire after this year’s Australian Open – a special place after winning her grand slam title there in 2018.

Karl Budge says the match will a massive test for the 438th ranked Hourigan, and hopes fans will come out in support of the young Kiwi.

“For someone like Paige who’s taking on someone who’s spent more weeks at number one than most – you need to go out and play your game.”

The other Kiwi wildcard in the draw 18-year-old Valentina Ivanov will face 69th ranked Jill Teichmann of Switzerland.

Two-time defending champion Julia Goerges will take on a qualifier in her opening round while second seed and world No. 15 Petra Martic will go up against Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck.

Qualifying is currently underway with main draw singles action to kick off on Monday.