Petrova coup for ASB Classic
Oct 26, 2005
By Alan Granville
The ASB Classic has Peter Jackson to thank for bringing one of the world's top players to the Auckland tournament in 2006.
Russian world number 10 Nadia Petrova has confirmed she will play in next year's event, and it's all down to her love of the Lord of the Rings movies.
"It really influenced my decision. Since I saw that movie I have always wanted to go to New Zealand. Next year will be a good opportunity to see the country," said Petrova.
It is only the second time that the ASB Classic has persuaded a top 10 player to come to Auckland - the last was Anke Huber in 1997.
It's certainly a big coup after the relative disappointment of this year's number one seed Amy Frazier, who was ranked 26 at the time of the tournament.
Petrova, 23, is one of the world's most consistent players, with a semifinal appearance at Roland Garros and a place in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2005, but amazingly she is yet to win a WTA singles title.
"This year has been a lot better for me than last season. I have done a good step forward and I been consistent in the Grand Slams. Almost every tournament I reached at least the quarterfinals. I feel it's been a good foundation for next year."
Another factor in her decision to come to Auckland was tournament director Richard Palmer.
He distributed information packs on the ASB Classic and New Zealand to players at this year's US Open.
"I remember meeting him and thinking 'yes, I would like to go to New Zealand'. I had in my mind that I would like to go at least once there."
Palmer was delighted to get Petrova's signature for next season.
"It's wonderful that a player of Petorva's class is coming to the ASB Classic for the first time. It's a coup to get her here. She's certainly got the ability to win titles. We are obviously hoping that Auckland will be the first of many," said Palmer.
Petrova, who cites Steffi Graf as her main influence, has beaten some of the world's top players including Jennifer Capriati, Serena Williams and Monica Seles.
But she singles out Lindsay Davenport as her toughest opponent.
"It's really hard for me to find any rhythm against her. Her shots come really hard and deep into the court."
Petrova is also a doubles expert with 11 titles to her name and comes with a rich sports heritage - her father was a top hammer thrower while her mum took bronze in the 400 metres relay at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
The ASB Classic will begin on January 2, with coverage on TV ONE