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New Zealand's worst kept secret has just been confirmed. Anna Kournikova will compete in the ASB Classic in Auckland in January. I am guessing that this is her lead up tournament before the Aus Open. The Tennis Assoc. just called a press conference to confirm it at 3pm today but there have been rumours for weeks. Marat Safin is going to play at the men's event.
 

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Anna Kournikova Signed <br />[Wednesday, November 07, 2001]

<br /> GLOBAL STAR SIGNED FOR 2002 ASB BANK CLASSIC

In the six years ASB BANK has been associated with the ASB BANK Classic the standard of play and profile of women’s tennis both at the Classic and internationally has grown astronomically. To a point where globally some women tennis players have become icons in their own right. This was clearly illustrated in a recent poll of 1,500 top USA advertising executives who named a women tennis player as the world's most appealing female endorser.

Every year the aim of Auckland Tennis and New Zealand Tennis is to assemble as strong a field as possible for the ASB BANK Classic. 2002 is no exception and we are thrilled to have secured the highest profile player ever to play the tournament.

ASB BANK, New Zealand Tennis and Auckland Tennis are delighted to announce that the 2002 ASB BANK Classic will feature the first ever appearance in New Zealand of Anna Kournikova.

ASB BANK Classic Tournament Director Richard Palmer in making this announcement today said, " This is a huge day for the tournament and the sporting public of New Zealand. Anna has been ranked as high as 8 in the world and has appeared in 3 Sanex WTA Tour singles finals and 16 semi-finals including Wimbledon.

She has victories over Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles, Conchita Martinez, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, and Steffi Graf to her credit. In addition Anna has won 13 Sanex WTA doubles titles including the Australian Open with partner Martina Hingis. Her most recent title again with Martina Hingis came last month in Moscow. In 1999 she was the women’s No 1 ranked doubles player.

It is fair to say both on and off the court she is an extremely talented 20 year old, known and admired, if not adored, worldwide".

The ASB BANK Classic will be played at the ASB BANK Tennis Centre, 72 Stanley Street from 31 December 2001 to 5 January 2002. Tickets will be available from all Ticketek outlets from 26 November.
 
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...excellent.....

if she starts off well, when other players are warmning up (if you will) from their break.... aukland may be annas first!
 

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I agree with the way, that Anna played at her last event, Seat Open, she can definitely contend for the title!

I would love for her to win here, and I think even though it is a low tier, people will still accept her first tourney win here! <img src="biggrin.gif" border="0">
 

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great news!!!!

bring us a greater news Anna!!!! <img src="graemlins/angel.gif" border="0" alt="[Angel]" />
 

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No one yet Monster. There is talk of Conchita Martinez coming. They are thinking about having a play-off for the wild cards. It looks like Pavlina Nola won't just get one she might have to play off against Leanne Baker or Shelley Stephens.
 

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Is it the first ever event lower than Tier III she plays in her all career?
 
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i remember mary joe fernandez saying she wished she had played lower tournaments in her career instead of only the top(maybe it was shriver or corrillo but someone) and that since anna has been on the scene she has been having to play teh davenports hingis grafs and sucha nd never really got to play and you know all that stuff and have the match confidence even winning a lower tournamnet and everything. she advised anna to do this. but

<br />imagine the emberassment of anna if she lost 1st round, the media would have a fantastic time with his <img src="frown.gif" border="0">
 

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I think this is excellent news, if Anna can two solid tournaments behind before the Open, she is going to one hell of a Dangerous Floater (as she will be unseeded)
 

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hello to Goran <img src="wink.gif" border="0">
 

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I have to admit to some surprise at hearing that Anna Kournikova would play a tier IV event. While I think this is a good move on her part, there are good and bad elements to her playing at the NZ tournament.

Good<br />1. She will not have to use a wild card here. Since she will only have 6-9 wildcards (I believe) and playing here will help her reserve one.

2. The field should be much smaller here. If Anna plays well, we could be reading headlines saying "Kournikova-2002 Aukland Champion."

Bad<br />1. Unless Anna wins the tournament or at least makes the final, this tournament will be considered a failure for her. If she loses early, she will not only have to deal with the press; she will also have to deal with her own self-confidence, which cannot be very high right now. Remember Anna had first round losses to Pratt, Fokina, Myskina, Kremer and Coetzer before winning a first round match at the Seat Open. Despite a good showing at the Luxembourg tournament, those losses, especially to Fokina, have to be weighing on Anna's mind.

2. Anna has always stated that she wanted to win a big tournament for her first victory. I take that to mean that she wanted to win a tier 1 event or a slam. She has also stated that beating a player ranked 50 in the world will not do much for her self-confidence. Given the fact that Anna considers herself a top ten player, despite her current ranking, will she be motivated to win this tournament? If you look at Anna's record at small events, Gold Coast, Seat Open, Sparkenssen Cup, Oklahoma City, she has never reached the final of those tournaments. Her best results have always been at tier 1 events (3 finals-Lipton, Family Circle Cup, Moscow), 3 top level semifinals (Wimbledon, Chase, German Open), 11 tier 2 semifinals (Eastbourne (2 times), Sydney, Paris Indoors, Scottsdale, San Diego, Leipzig, Stanford, Hannover, Amelia Island, Pan Pacific. Will she be motivated here? Given her recent results, a victory is not a given here. 2002 will be a rebuilding year for Kournikova. Let's hope that Auckland will be a good starting point.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to rain on her parade as it were. I hope she does win. Any win will suffice at this point. So here's to wishing her well for next year. <img src="graemlins/wavey.gif" border="0" alt="[Wavey]" />
 

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I think though that Kournikova is building on her Seat Open performance and not her previous events. Anna will have pressure to win here, and it won't be a cake walk for her. There are lots of players who could push her.

I'm sure that Cara Black, Elena Likhovtseva, Meilen Tu, and Rita Grande will play here.
 

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I am pretty sure that Meilen Tu will defend her title because I thought that I read once that the WTA like you to defend your first title. I am sure that some people don't go back to but I am pretty sure that is what I read. When you win your first WTA title they like it when you go back the following year.
 

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hey Goran, thanks for this great information.

hope Anna will play well there and finally win her first title <img src="smile.gif" border="0">
 
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