TWO-TIME defending champion David Ferrer is returning for another tilt at January’s New Zealand Open.
If the Spanish tennis star wins it will be his fourth triumph, and will equal the three consecutive wins Australian great Roy Emerson registered in the 1960s.
Ferrer is in top form, having won six titles this year, and tournament director Karl Budge said he was delighted to have him headline the event again.
He is comfortable in Auckland and is popular with the fans.
The tournament is a traditional warm-up for the Australian Open in Melbourne, but offers less appearance money than other rival events on at the same time in across the ditch.
“We certainly had some strong competition from Sydney, Kooyong and two tournaments the week prior, in Chennai and Doha,” Budge told Fairfax NZ.
“But we have a great relationship with David and he loves coming out here.
“We are thrilled to get him. It wasn’t easy but we probably had the inside running.”
He will be joined by American Mardy Fish, the world No 26, while Belgian rookie David Goffin is a potential star, having rocketed from 174 to 42 in the world rankings.
Philipp Kohlschreiber and Juan Monaco are expected to be confirmed soon.