ASB Classic: Tournament director Karl Budge considering major overhaul to avoid late withdrawals

*Frenchman Gael Monfils, who is featured in this Newshub 6pm track, withdrew from the ASB Classic on Monday night - just minutes after this aired.

ASB Classic organisers are considering an overhaul to their men's and women's tournaments.

With two of the big names withdrawing before play began on Monday, the strength of the men's draw's has been weakened considerably.

Organisers are hoping to avoid this in the future by overlapping the tournaments.

"I'd be more than happy to look at how we could structure the tournament, and maybe we have an overlap between the men's and the women's," Budge told Newshub.

The late withdrawals of Roberto Bautista Agut and Tomas Berdych meant the men's event was without both its defending champ and arguably its biggest name.

But everyone understood.

"It's tough for the tournament, but as an athlete, I completely understand them" world number 32 Gael Monfils told Newshub.

The logistics of flying to Auckland, and playing either the next day or the day you arrived is too much to ask of any professional athlete.

"The All Blacks wouldn't do that and it's probably not fair for our defending champion to do that also." Budge said.

"We've got to find a way that we can work through the 'how do we get people to playing the first week' and what does that mean playing in week two."

One way Budge has done that is agreed terms with players not to play the week before the ASB Classic.

Monfils was one of those players that accepted that deal, giving up vital points from not defending his crown at the Qatar Open.

"I was Doha defending champion and I told him I really like Auckland last time I came and I would do that actually because I like Karl you know," Monfils said.

But the says the Classic can't do that for everyone

"If we went down that path and said we're only going to do that we wouldn't have many players here."

That's why they'd consider pushing the first couple of days of men's tournament back onto the last couple of the women's.

"With World Team Cup I think we've got an ability to change how we do our tournaments. I'd be open to finishing on Thursday for example." Budge said.

The World Team Cup is set to be the ATPs main warm-up event for the Australian Open in 2020 but how the 24-nation event will impact the tournament is unknown.

Budge isn’t fazed. His focus is on making the Classic more appealing every year.

Starting the tournament earlier will mean they can extend the tournament from six days to seven.

It will also mean they can extend the tournament from six days to seven - something they’ve been forced to because of the Australian Open (the latest they can have the final is Saturday).


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