Watch: ASB Classic tournament director reveals all-star names he's offered wildcards

ASB Classic tournament director Karl Budge has revealed the list of star names he's offered wildcards for the 2018 men's competition.

With the men's tournament beginning on January 9, Budge and his team are working around the clock to find a marquee signing before the competition is drawn.

Having attracted star names like Serena and Venus Williams for this year's tournament, Budge is pulling out all the stops to bring another big name to Auckland, the tournament director revealed today.

"Jo (Tsonga), Milos (Raonic), Marcos (Baghdatis) - there's a number of options in that space at the moment," he said.

"We've flicked a note to Novak (Djokovic), we talked to Rafa (Nadal) - that's a no.

"There's no reason for us to commit early - we might as well keep waiting and see what comes out of the woodwork over the next week."

The likes of Nadal, Djokovic, Raonic and Tsonga have all been contacted by Karl Budge. Source: 1 NEWS


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Two-time Grand Slam champ Victoria Azarenka confirmed for Auckland's ASB Classic

Two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka is heading to the ASB Classic in 2019.

Azarenka was due to play in Auckland earlier this year, but withdrew after an ongoing legal battle over custody of her son.

“She wanted to be here last year and she was certainly gearing up to be here. It was only the restriction of her not being able to leave the States last year that mean that she couldn’t come,” tournament director Karl Budge told 1 NEWS.

“Obviously it’s very pleasing that she wanted to come back, it was a pretty easy conversation for us to lure her.”

Budge expects the refreshed and re-focused Belarusian to get back to winning ways in Auckland.

"She's taken the year off from year through so she won't play for the remainder of the year. She's going home to have a really big training block, and come back with an assault on that top 10. A grit-between-the-teeth Victoria Azarenka's a scary proposition."

She is the third major winner to be announced in the women’s draw, following Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams.

Budge expects to add one more Grand Slam champion to the mix.

Victoria Azarenka is knocked out of Wimbledon Source: Associated Press

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Danish star Caroline Wozniacki returning to Auckland's ASB Classic

Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki has confirmed via social media that she will be returning to Auckland for her sixth time at the ASB Classic.

The Australian Open winner, currently in Beijing competing at the China Open, made the announcement this afternoon on Facebook.

"I cant wait to start my 2019 year in one of my favourite cities for the ASB Classic," Wozniacki posted.

"Such a fun place to play. Going one better in 2019! See my kiwi fans soon." 

The ASB Classic tournament begins on December 31 and finishes up on January 12, 2019.

Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki during her quarter final at the ASB Classic. WTA Womens Tournament. ASB Tennis Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. Thursday 5 January 2017. © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Caroline Wozniacki competes at the ASB Classic on Day Four Source: Photosport


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Serena Williams sings I Touch Myself to raise awareness for breast cancer

US tennis star Serena Williams has gone topless to sing the Divinyls hit I Touch Myself, in a video to promote breast cancer awareness month.

Williams posted the clip to Instagram where it has racked up over two million views since being posted on Sunday.

With her hands covering her breasts, Williams writes in the Instagram post that the video took her out of her "comfort zone."

However, she said she wanted to do it because early detection saves so many lives.

"Yes, this put me out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to do it because it’s an issue that affects all women of all colors, all around the world. Early detection is key - it saves so many lives.

"I just hope this helps to remind women of that."


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'I just don't understand' - Serena Williams rejects coach's cheating admission after US Open tantrum

Serena Williams does not understand why her coach admitted giving her instructions from the sidelines during her controversial US Open women's final.

Speaking about her angry outburst earlier this month, Williams maintained in an interview on Network Ten she was not being coached during the match, which she lost to Japan's Naomi Osaka.

"I just don't understand what (coach Patrick Mouratoglou) was talking about because I asked him, you weren't coaching, we don't have signals, we've never had signals and he said he made a motion," she told The Sunday Project.

"So you said you made a motion, now you told people that you're coaching me, that doesn't make sense, why would you say that," she said of her discussion with her coach.

Williams did not answer a question about whether she regretted the decision to break her racquet on the court, with footage showing her publicist stepping in during the interview.

The six-time US Open champion, who was chasing a record-equalling 24th grand slam title, was handed a coaching violation and a point penalty for breaking her racquet before a heated argument with umpire Carlos Ramos ended with her losing a game.

The tournament referee's office fined the former world No.1 $US10,000 for the "verbal abuse" of Ramos, $US4000 for being warned for coaching and $US3000 for smashing her racquet.

Williams said she wanted to move on from the controversy.
"What I'm just trying to do most of all is to just recover from that," she told The Sunday Project.


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