Martin Klizan. Photo by Reuters
The world's top newcomer to the men's professional tennis
tour will play in next year's Heineken Open.
Slovakian Martin Klizan, who earlier this month reached a
career-high ranking of 29 and won the ATP newcomer of the
year award, confirmed yesterday he will kick off his year in
Auckland. The 23-year-old's biggest scalp in 2012 was a US
Open victory over world No8
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while, in September, he won his first ATP
title in St Petersburg, Russia.
Klizan's win there was the first title for a Slovakian since
long time Auckland favourite Dominik Hrbaty collected the
second of his two Heineken Open crowns in 2004.
Auckland has long enjoyed a reputation of attracting young
talent that goes on to great things. Swedish star Bjorn Borg
played here at the beginning of his career - back then he had
the haircut and the headband but a lot less hype. Roger
Federer appeared at the Heineken Open in 2000, though he was
unfortunately consigned to a backcourt and the Auckland
tournament remains the only event on the ATP tour that he has
not won a match at.
A 17-year-old Rafa Nadal came here in 2004 and reached his
first ATP final, thrilling fans with his relentless energy
while delighting reporters with his attempts to hablar
Heineken Open tournament director Karl Budge said it was a
great opportunity to see a future star.
"Martin has gone from 120 in the world at this time last year
to crack the top 30", says Budge. "That shows the rocket-like
trajectory he's on."
The 1.90m Klizan, who lists clay as his favourite surface but
is adept on hardcourt, could be a dark horse for a run late
into the week.
- By Michael Burgess