Mens 14 Dec 2023

Young Guns lead men’s showdown at ASB Classic in Auckland

by ASB Classic
Young Guns lead men’s showdown at ASB Classic in Auckland

Granted a wildcard entry in 2023, American wonder kid Ben Shelton will return as the tournament’s top seed for the ASB Classic in Auckland next month.

Shelton, who went on from Auckland to enjoy a mercurial rise to No 17 in the world this year, will head the players named today in the main draw for the men’s ASB Classic starting on 8 January.

The 21 year old, who became the youngest American to break into the world’s top 50, heads a bunch of talented tyros who will provide plenty of spark to the 69th staging of the ASB Classic, the ATP 250 event.

He is joined by the likes of 23-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, ranked 29 in the world; American Chris Eubanks 27 years, ranked 34; 19-year-old Frenchman Arthur Fils, world no 36; Australian Max Purcell 25, ranked 45; JJ Wolf (USA) 25 years, ranked 53; and 25-year-old German Daniel Altmaier, ranked 56 in the world.

“They are among the new world order in tennis and they bring a fresh excitement to the game,” said ASB Classic Tournament Director, Nicolas Lamperin.

“From our perspective, it is rewarding to see the likes of Ben Shelton, who left USA for the first time to play here this year, progressing around the world this year as a fresh and exciting new face.”

Shelton pushed on after Auckland to make the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, the semifinals at the US Open, where he lost to Novak Djokovic, before a breakthrough tournament victory in the ATP 500 in Tokyo.

Auger-Aliassime, who guided Canada to their first Davis Cup victory last year, has been as high as No 6 in the world and has already bagged five ATP titles. He is the youngest player to make the world’s top-25 since Lleyton Hewitt over two decades ago.

Eubanks, popular in Auckland this year, is another to enjoy a stellar 2023 making the quarters at Wimbledon, Atlanta and Miami with victory at Mallorca.

Frenchman Fils, just 19 years, will attract plenty of interest after finishing runner-up at the ATP Next Gen finals, and becoming the youngest Frenchman in nearly two decades to win an ATP title in Lyon.

Purcell, who won three ITF finals in an 18-match winning run; Wolf who progressed from Auckland with two semifinals and three quarterfinals in the ATP this year; and Altmaier, who won a Challenger title among four ATP quarterfinals, are all part of the emerging youthful talent to head to Auckland.

While far from an “old-hand”, there will be plenty of support for Auckland-raised British star, Cameron Norrie, who is the second seed at 18th in the world. The big left-hander will be keen to go one better after finishing runner-up at Auckland this year, at the ASB Arena where he watched for several years as a youngster. His year included winning the ATP 500 in Rio defeating Carlos Alcaraz for the title, reaching the final at Buenos Aires and the quarters at Indian Wells, Queens and Zhuhai.

There are a bunch of experienced players in the mix, headed by colourful Frenchman Gael Monfils, a wildcard entry, who grabbed his 12th ATP title this year and reached at least one final over the last 19 years.

Joining him are Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who boasts 11 titles and reached No 9 in the world, returning from a significant injury along with five-time winner Adrian Mannarino from France.

“It is an excellent mix not only of these exciting young players but also some proven stars who have won many, many times around the world,” said Lamperin.

“It is an extremely good field, which is very even and I expect some torrid battles of high quality throughout the week.”

There are 19 players given direct entry, with three wildcards (Monfils, and the New Zealand playoff  winner, plus one to be confirmed) with the remaining four players to come from qualifying.

There is also an additional opportunity for fans with organisers able to secure a very limited number of tickets from our sponsors’ allocations, with approximately 50 additional tickets released for all sessions of men’s week from January 8-13.

The ASB Classic begins with the WTA Women’s ASB Classic from January 1-7.

The full men’s field is (Seeding, World Ranking):

1. Ben Shelton (USA) World No 17, 2. Cameron Norrie (GBR) No 18, 3. Francisco Cerundolo (ARG) No 21, 4. Adrian Mannarino (FRA) No 22, 5. Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) No 25, 6. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) No 29, 7. Chris Eubanks (USA) No 34, 8. Arthur Fils (FRA) No 36, 9. Sebastian Ofner (AUT) No 43, 10. Max Purcell (AUS) No 45, 11. Botic van de Zandschulp (NED) No 50, No 12. JJ Wolf (USA) No 53 13. Daniel Altmaier (GER) No 56, 14. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) No 57; 15. Marcos Giron (USA) No 60, 16. Aleksandar Vukic (AUS) No 62, 17. Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) No 63, 18. Fabian Marozsan (HUN) No 64, 19. Nuno Borges (POR) No 66.

Wildcard: Gael Monfils (FRA) No 74.