Top-class tennis will return to New Zealand next January for the first time in three years with big names promised for the men’s and women’s Auckland Open tournaments, organisers said on Tuesday.
Serena Williams was the last champion of the WTA event at the ASB Tennis Centre in early 2020 before New Zealand locked down its borders in an attempt to keep the COVID-19 virus out of the country.
Travel restrictions have eased this year and the government said in May that international borders would open fully to visitors from the end of July.
That has cleared the way for the Australian Open warm-up events to return to New Zealand’s biggest city under a new tournament director, Frenchman Nicolas Lamperin.
“The tournaments in Auckland are loved by players and amongst the best-attended 250 events on the calendar,” said Lamperin, a player agent whose clients have included Marion Bartoli, Stan Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.
“I’m excited to get to work and continue the legacy of what is one of the highlights of the summer down under.”
Frenchman Ugo Humbert won the 2020 edition of the ATP tournament, which is traditionally played the week after the women’s event.
The 2023 tournaments are slated to run from January 2-14, organisers said, with the Australian Open expected to get under way in Melbourne on Jan. 16.