Tsonga part of new Auckland tournament

Venus Williams and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be the star attractions when the Auckland women’s and men’s international tennis tournaments are combined in January.

Both the WTA event, in which Williams is the defending champion, and the ATP event, previously the Heineken Open, will be known as the ASB Classic.

Williams, a seven-times grand slam singles winner and former world No.1, will be making her third consecutive visit to Auckland.

Tsonga is a former world No.5 and grand slam finalist, who has 11 tour titles to his name.

Tournament director Karl Budge says the expanded support from ASB was a big boost.

He says Tsonga was a player tournament organisers had chased for three years.

“Jo is a true superstar of the tennis world,” he said.

“He is just one of those guys who entertains both on and off the court. He will be huge for us.”

Budge said Williams had made Auckland her own over the past two years, with her victory in 2015 and finishing runner-up in 2014.

The ASB Classic will run from January 4 to 16 – with the women competing in the first week – leading into the Australian Open in Melbourne.

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