7 Jan 2019

Jamie Wall: Women's ASB Classic recap

12:23 pm on 7 January 2019

Well done Julia Goerges, but you have to take your hat off to the loser of last night's ASB Classic women's final, too.

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2019 ASB Classic champion Julia Goerges. Photo: Photosport

Canadian Bianca Andreescu had to qualify to get in, earn her way onto centre court, then fight her way past Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams to go within a couple of games of winning the 2019 title.

In all, she spent an entire day on court. Not bad for an 18-year-old, an age when most are simply content with enjoying buying alcohol legally for the first time and popping their pimples.

However, the night and the tournament now belong to Goerges for the second year in a row.

Despite the impetuous nature of Andreescu, the German took everything thrown at her, absorbed it, and fired it back in the second and third sets. In reality, she won it comfortably and will use it to hopefully mount a decent run at the upcoming Australian Open.

It even managed to finish at a reasonable time for everyone heading back to work tomorrow morning, a far cry from the Friday night session which had one quarter final starting at 11:30pm.

First up though, the doubles final had a bit riding on it for the home crowd. Paige Hourigan, out of Turakina just south of Whanganui, had made an improbable run of her own to the final alongside American partner Taylor Townsend. The match saw two lopsided sets go either way, before a thrilling tiebreaker went to Eugenie Bouchard and Sofia Kenin.

Paige Hourigan reacts during a match.

New Zealand tennis player Paige Hourigan was runner up in the doubles final alongside her American partner Taylor Townsend. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Before the week began, the expectations on any kiwi woman to actually achieve anything this week were precisely zero, so Hourigan's success was a real shot in the arm for the game here.

No New Zealanders qualified for the main singles draw, but hopefully this can be the start of something good for the 21-year-old. Even though her and Townsend lost the final, the ranking points she picked up will be invaluable.

It's been a week of surprises at Stanley Street, but the main thing that kept a smile on organisers' faces was the (mostly) good weather.

The sun was out for the business end of the tournament, and the crowds have flocked to the stands. While it was deprived of a big name final, the women's classic would have to be judged a success due to Andreescu's crowd-pleasing play and the big name appearances of Venus Williams, Viktoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

The first round match of Williams and Azarenka meant that there was a sellout Tuesday night crowd, and it ended up being a pulsating match.

Wozniacki looked like the Grand Slam champion she is, until she ran into the fired up Andereescu. Poor Eugenie Bouchard found herself back on court an hour after losing a three-set singles quarterfinal, but then showed outstanding grit to win a doubles match on the way to the title.

Bianca Andreescu celebrates her win over Venus Williams during the ASB Classic Quarter Finals.

Bianca Andreescu went from having to qualify for the ASB Classic to getting within two games of winning the whole tournament. Photo: Photosport

Perhaps the classiest touch was reserved for a familiar name that wasn't even playing. After the final, tournament organisers presented the recently retired Marina Erakovic with a framed image of her to pay tribute to her years of toil on the WTA tour.

For New Zealand Tennis, though, there was something to smile about as well - even if it wasn't on the Stanley Street court.

At the same time as Hourigan and Townsend's loss, Marcus Daniell and his Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof won the men's doubles final at the Brisbane International.

They'll be in action once the men's tournament kicks off, which will mean another week of straw hats, champagne and action at Stanley Street.

*Frustration at his own shortcomings as a rugby player and multiple concussions have left Jamie with an innate ability to find fault with rules, players, matches and sporting bodies alike.