28 Nov 2018

Three more seeds confirmed as part of ASB Classic full field

by Rhonda Karl
Three more seeds confirmed as part of ASB Classic full field

Italian number one, Fabio Fognini has confirmed he will vie for the prestigious ASB Classic title in 2019.

The 31-year old Italian is in red hot form and will come to the ASB Classic as second seed, with a current world ranking of 13.

Fognini has been one of the most consistent performers on the ATP Tour in 2018 capturing three titles; Los Cabos, where he beat Del Potro in the final, Bastad and Sau Paulo, reaching a further final in Chengdu and semi-finals in Stockholm, Beijing, Rio De Janeiro and Sydney to finish the year equalling his career high of 13 in the world.  

ASB Classic tournament director, Karl Budge couldn’t be happier to secure Fognini, who’ll bring some fiery passion to the fans on centre court.

“Fabio is one of the most entertaining blokes on tour.  He plays with that real Italian passion and flare that captivates crowds.  He is great to have in the field.” said Budge.

Fognini last appeared at the ASB Classic in 2016 where he progressed to the quarter finals before going down to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in a hard fought 5-7, 6-7(4) match, remembered for its fast pace and on-court passion.

The fiery right hander has captured eight ATP World Tour titles and holds a unique record of being the only player to record a victory over Rafael Nadal after being two sets down in a Grand Slam.  

And Fognini is looking forward to returning to Auckland again.

“I like playing in Auckland. I’ve had some great matches there and the crowd is amazing to play in front of.  I’ve been playing some great tennis this year and I hope to do the same in 2019”.

Fognini adds to an already world class line up for the men’s field for the 2019 ASB Classic including John Isner, former world number four Tomas Berdych, defending champion Roberto Bautista-Agut, renowned showman Gaels Monfils and Next Gen superstars Denis Shapovalov and Hyeon Chung.

“We know that Fognini really brings the crowd to life with his passion and flair on the court. When you start looking at some of the match ups that we could have in the men’s field, it’s going to be an action-packed week, especially in those first few days of the tournament” stated Budge.

World number 10 John Isner will headline the field after his best season to date. The American powerhouse won his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Miami earlier this year as well as reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon. The 33-year old had finished in the top 20 for nine consecutive years but this season finished inside the top 10 and qualified for the ATP finals. With two ASB Classic titles already to his name in 2010 and 2014, and no points to defend until March, Isner has a real opportunity to get back to his career high ranking of 8 or even better.

Third seed will be Italian Marco Cecchianto, currently ranked 20th. Like his countryman Fognini, Cecchianto has been in red hot form this season, starting the year ranked 109, ‘Ceck’ rose 90 placings to reach his career best ranking of 19 last month. He won his first two singles titles this season in Umag and Budapest and got one of the biggest upsets of the season, beating Novak Djokovic in four sets at Roland Garros to become the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 1978.

Rounding out the top five seeds are Spanish duo Pablo Carreno Busta (23) and defending ASB Classic champion Roberto Bautista-Agut (24). The Auckland fans will remember the heroic efforts of Bautista-Agut in his semi-final against Robin Hasse this year where the pair battled for three hours before the Spaniard took the marathon match 6-7, 7-6, 7-6.  Bautista-Agut then went on to defeat del Potro in the final to claim his second ASB Classic title. The champion’s form continued in Dubai, winning his second title of the season in March, and bringing his career tally to eight.

Carreno Busta is one of the more underrated players on the ATP Tour.  However his results suggest otherwise having captured three ATP titles already and enjoying a consistent season that included four semi-finals (Winston-Salem, Estoril, Barcelona and Miami) and three further quarter-finals (Cincinnati, Hamburg and Rome). 

Giant killer Tomas Berdych will make his debut in Auckland next year. The hard-court specialist is one of only three players who’ve defeated the big four Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray in major events, rose to world number four in May 2015 and captured 13 ATP singles titles. The big serving Czech found form again earlier this season before taking an injury break. Being a wildcard entrant, he won’t have protection setting up a potentially mouth-watering opening round match.

One of those possible match ups could be with youngsters Denis Shapovalov, Hyeon Chung or Taylor Fritz.  Shapovalov is considered to be the future of Men’s tennis having recorded major wins against Nadal, Del Potro and Andy Murray whilst Chung broke through to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final in Australia earlier this year.  Both players showed why they are so highly touted at the ASB Classic earlier this year and return desperate to start their 2019 season. American Fritz has been on the radar of the ASB Classic for some time and after a solid season was rewarded with a spot in the Next Gen Finals earlier this month. 

Adding to the excitement of the ASB Classic is the inclusion of one of the most entertaining players on tour, Frenchman Gael Monfils. He has seven ATP titles to his name and has been as high as number six in the world rankings (2016). Injuries have plagued Monfils but there’s no doubt, the ‘showman’ will once again be a crowd favourite here in Auckland come the New Year.

“To me the most exciting part of this year’s field is the contrast of styles.  You’ve got the big hitters in the likes of Isner and Berdych, some of the games best returners in Chung and Fognini and then the real excitement machines of Monfils and Shapovalov.  With some of our best talent not in the top four seeds, we are going to have some incredible match ups early on” said Budge

ASB head community and sponsorship Mark Graham says ASB has been helping bring world class tennis to Auckland for 22 years and the field announced today shows what a must-visit tournament it has become.

“What a breadth of talent on offer in the 2019 ASB Classic! It says so much about the tournament’s international reputation among players. New Zealand tennis fans are in for a fantastic summer courtside watching up close some of the most exciting players in the world in action. We can’t wait for the tournament to begin.”

Full list of main draw players for the 2019 Men’s Week:

  1. John Isner (10)
  2. Fabio Fognini (13)
  3. Marco Cecchinato (20)
  4. Pablo Carreno Busta (23)
  5. Roberto Bautista Agut (24)
  6. Hyeon Chung (25)
  7. Denis Shapolvalov (27)
  8. Gael Monfils (29)
  9. Steve Johnson (33)
  10. Philipp Kohlschreiber (34)
  11. Joao Sousa (44)
  12. Taylor Fritz (49)
  13. Robin Hasse (50)
  14. Benoit Paire (52)
  15. Matteo Berrettini (54)
  16. Pierre-Hugues Herbert (55)
  17. Leonardo Mayer (56)
  18. Jan-Lennard Struff (57)
  19. Guido Pella (58)