13 Jan 2018

That’s a wrap for the ASB Classic

6:52 pm on 13 January 2018

Analysis - After the previous evening's exceptionally warm temperatures, it was a welcome relief that a bit of cloud cover made the viewing experience at Stanley Street a little cooler today.

Mate Pavic, left, and Oliver Marach celebrate.

Mate Pavic, left, and Oliver Marach celebrate. Photo: Photosport

The doubles final got the crowd warmed up in the early afternoon, with Olivier Marach and Mate Pavic getting up 6-4, 5-7, 10-7 over Max Mirnyi and Philipp Oswald in a super tie break finish.

Pavic enjoyed his second Auckland ATP doubles title, to go with the one he won with Kiwi Michael Venus in 2016. For Miyrni, nicknamed 'The Beast', it was the continuation of a seemingly never-ending pro career that started way back in 1994.

By the time Juan Martin del Potro and Roberto Bautista Agut came onto centre court, the temperature had climbed back up to 26 degrees outside - which would've been significantly higher on the hard surface that the match was to be played.

Bautista Agut broke del Potro in the second game, but the big man struck back straight away in the next - just in time for the arrival of Shaun Johnson to a courtside corporate box. But the Spaniard dominated the rest of the set to take it 6-1.

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) celebrates his win over Robin Haase (ESP) during the ASB Classic

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) celebrates his win over Robin Haase (ESP) during the ASB Classic Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The crowd willed on del Potro to an inspired second set which stayed on serve until the ninth game. Bautista Agut cracked and the Argentinean took the set 6-4, and it seemed a distinct possibility that the match would outlast the Black Caps' demolition job against Pakistan happening at the same time (for the record, the cricket went longer - but only by 10 minutes).

By now the atmosphere was as hot as the climate, with del Potro the clear favourite in the crowd's eyes. By then Johnson and Silver Fern girlfriend Kayla Cullen had taken off, which meant they missed Bautista Agut gaining a crucial break in the 10th game.

Del Potro looked on course to break back in the next game, but Bautista Agut held his nerve to hang on and win. He took the set 7-5 and the title of ASB Classic champion of 2017.

And so ends the fortnight in which pro tennis takes centre stage in New Zealand. There were plenty of highlights: notably the pulsating semi final between Bautista Agut and Robin Haase, then the final itself. Both the men's and women's tournaments served up high quality matchups for the finals. Off the court, the expanded fan area was heavily populated and the general organisation was first class.

Kiwi singles hopes Jade Lewis and Venus came and went quickly, both knocked out in the first round - but Venus and Raven Klaasen did come within a whisker of being in the doubles final, just pipped in a super tie-break.

The bad spots came in the form of the weather, which disrupted the women's tournament badly and caused two whole days' play to be abandoned. In the men's, it was the withdrawal of four key drawcards in the space of 24 hours.

However, the most talked about controversy of the week was the lacklustre performance of 2017 champion Jack Sock. In a week of monotonous press conferences, at least the American provided some interest when he sat down to face questions after his first round loss. He looked disinterested, despite being hammered by reporters about why. The clearly exasperated world number eight was spotted at Auckland airport only an hour later - meaning the stinky Sock probably didn't even have a shower before he left the country.

The eyes of the tennis world now turn to Melbourne, where the Australian Open starts on Monday. Historically, the winner of the Auckland ATP has gone on to have a highly successful year - so expect big things from Julia Goerges and Roberto Bautista Agut.

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