Tennis: Tournament director plays down potential carryover conflict between Russian Anna Blinkova, Ukrainian Elina Svitolina at ASB Classic

The countdown is on to the ASB Classic, which brings some of the best tennis players in the world to the 'City of Sails'.  

The final women's draw has been announced, with the men's to follow next week, and it's shaping up as a tournament filled with talent, skills and, of course, some drama.  

When she limped out of this year's ASB Classic, blaming the state of the indoor courts for an ankle injury, Emma Raducanu seemed unlikely to ever want to play at Auckland again, but tournament director Nico Lamperin used all his powers of persuasion to woo her back.  

 The 2021 US Open Champion hasn't played since surgery on both wrists in May, but has accepted a wild card for the Classic and will no doubt be pleased the controversial indoor courts have been resurfaced. 

Tensions between Ukrainian and Russian players may not be such an easy fix, with Elina Svitolina refusing to shake Russian Anna Blinkova's hand at the French Open in June. 

The Ukrainian cited respect for her country's soldiers in the war against Russia as her reason for snubbing Blinkova. Both are heading to Auckland, but Lamperin doesn't expect their feud to carry over to New Zealand.

"These situations happen all the time on tour," said Lamperin. "They've been happening now for a year-and-a half, so I don't have any furthers comments to make on this." 

Lamperin will hope the quality of tennis will be the only talking point next week.