The calendar may still be showing 2016 for one more day, but the 2017 WTA season is already starting Down Under with Saturday's qualifying action at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. I am at one one of the most remotely located tennis events in the world, bringing you fresh WTA photos from the dawn of the new season.
Held in the same week as the Brisbane and Shenzhen tournaments, Auckland has always been known to attract a great selection of players, but never before has the field been as high quality as it is in 2017.
Some of the WTA’s most famous names have gathered in New Zealand this week, headlined by Serena and Venus Williams. Tennis most famous sisters are joined by Caroline Wozniacki, Babora Strycova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and some of the WTA’s most promising young talents such as Naomi Osaka, Nicole Gibbs and Ana Konjuh.
Fans will get to see plenty of the Williams sisters this week. They will play both the singles & doubles competition, as well as an exhibition show match for the crowd on Sunday.
Saturday's qualifying already had its first big-name casualty, as Laura Robson, former world #27 who is still coming back from a lengthy wrist injury, failed to win her first qualifying match against the Czech Republic’s Tereza Martincova. Despite having four match points, the popular Brit was unable to seal the deal, leaving the court empty-handed after more than two and a half hours of intense tennis.