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Thursday October 28, 2010


Maria Sharapova Confirmed For 2011 ASB CLASSIC

By LadyDragon

AUCKLAND, New Zealand--( will be playing in New Zealand for the first time in her career at the 2011 ASB CLASSIC in Auckland.

Maria Sharapova said "Change, change, change!! Going to start 2011 a little different this year. I am happy to let everyone know that I will be playing in New Zealand for the first time in my career at the WTA event in Auckland. It's always fun playing in new places so I am really excited about trying something new. I hope to see all my friends in New Zealand the first week of January!"

The 2011 ASB Classic featuring the Kia Motors Singles and Doubles has confirmed one of the ultimate names and faces of world sport – Maria Sharapova.

Twenty three year-old Sharapova is a three-time Grand Slam winner and has 22 titles overall to her credit and is a former world No1.

She shocked the tennis world by triumphing at Wimbledon as a 17-year-old in 2004 defeating Lindsay Davenport 2-6 7-6(5) 6-1 in the semifinal and then beat top seed and two-time defending champion SerenaWilliams 6-1 6-4 in final.

The win meant Sharapova was the second-youngest in the Open Era to win at Wimbledon and the fourth youngest at all Grand Slams after Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Tracey Austin.

Her two other Grand Slam victories came at the 2006 US Open where she beat Justine Henin in the final in straight sets and at the 2008 Australian Open. Sharapova defeated Elena Dementieva, Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic and then Ana Ivanovic to take the title.

On ten occasions Sharapova has reached the quarterfinals, or better of Grand Slams, including the final of the Australian Open in 2007.

She won her first WTA singles titles in 2003 as a 16-year-old; at the tournaments in Tokyo & Quebec and has since then gone on to become one of the stars of the game.

Sharapova, who has a current ranking of 17 becomes one of an elite group of Grand Slam singles winners who have played in a women’s international in Auckland since the start of a WTA event in the summer of 1985/86 – the players are Lindsay Davenport, Conchita Martinez, Amelie Mauresmo, Mary Pierce, Anastasia Myskina and Francesca Schiavone.

She hit the top ranking of world No1 in August 2005 and has rarely been outside of the top echelon of the best dozen players in the world. That’s despite recovering from major shoulder surgery.

By her own high standards 2010 has been a year which can be improved upon. Although she still won two tournament titles (Memphis on hard court and Strasbourg on clay) and reached three finals – Birmingham (grass), Stanford in the United States and Cincinnati where she was eventually defeated in three sets by Kim Clijsters.

“It will be wonderful to have a player of the calibre of Maria play in the ASB Classic. She has been No1 in the world, a three-time Grand Slam winner and a real star of the game worldwide.

“Having Maria come to the ASB Classic is a major boost to the tournament and to the sport. Her popularity is huge and she will be one of the leading players at the ASB Classic in 2011,” says ASB Classic tournament director, Richard Palmer.

Sharapova has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, Forbes (listed as one of the richest female athletes in the world); also featured in People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People", Vogue Italia, USA Today, "21 Athletes to Watch Out For in the 21st Century", among others.

“As the major sponsor of the ASB Classic we are delighted to welcome a player of the calibre of Maria Sharapova to January’s tournament,” says ASB’s CEO, Charles Pink.

“Sharapova is one of the biggest names in world sport and her agreement to play at the ASB Classic in the new year will be a great drawcard for this world class tennis event held here in New Zealand. Sharapova will be playing alongside a great field of established tennis stars and next generation players, in what is sure to be an enthralling ASB Classic.”

Just last week it was officially confirmed that Sharapova had become engaged to LA Lakers Slovenian shooting guard Sasha Bujacic.

Tickets for the 2010 ASB Classic go on sale from Ticketek from Monday 1 November.

The ASB Classic featuring the Kia Motors Singles and Doubles will be played at the ASB Tennis Centre January 3-8, with qualifying January 1-2.

The ASB Classic is a US$220,000 International Series event on the WTA Tour.




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