January 7, 2016 / 6:08 AM / 2 years ago

Ferrer wild card a boost for Auckland fans

David Ferrer of Spain returns the ball to Illya Marchenko of Ukraine during their Qatar Open men's single tennis match in Doha, Qatar January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Ibraheem Al Omari

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - While local tennis fans bemoaned the early exits of the top two women’s seeds from the Auckland Classic, organizers of next week’s ATP Auckland Open delivered some good news on Thursday after world number seven David Ferrer accepted a wild card.

Ferrer was upset by Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko in the first round in Doha this week, paving the way for him to accept the wild card at Auckland, a tournament he has won four times.

”It’s huge for this tournament to have David Ferrer back for another year,“ tournament director Karl Budge said. ”He has been so loyal to us and is a huge crowd favorite.

“We are pleased to welcome him back to have another crack at the title.”

Ferrer’s inclusion in the draw, now as the top seed, means four of the top-12 players in men’s tennis will be at the tournament.

France’s Jo Wilfried Tsonga (10), who had been under an injury cloud and a doubt before he arrived in Auckland on Tuesday, twice champion John Isner (11) and South Africa’s Kevin Anderson (12) make it the strongest field assembled in New Zealand’s largest city, Budge added.

“To have our top four seeds all inside the world’s top 12 is incredible for an ATP 250 event,” Budge said.

“We are in for a treat this year.”

The depth of the men’s draw should make up for some of the disappointment directed at the women’s tournament this week.

Local media reported fans were angry that the Auckland Classic had been shorn of its top drawcards with defending champion Venus Williams and 2014 winner Ana Ivanovic both bundled out in the first round.

Budge said that was the nature of sport, particularly at the top level.

“That’s the beauty of sport, it’s unpredictable,” Budge said. “That’s the quality of this tournament, anyone of those girls coming through can win.”

Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki is the last of the three big drawcards remaining and will play her quarter-final against Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru later on Thursday.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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