Tennis: Venus 'pretty excited' at rare Kiwi success

By Dave Worsley

Michael Venus and India's Yuki Bhambri beat Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniel Gimeno-Traver in round one of the Aussie Open. Photo / NZ Herald
Michael Venus and India's Yuki Bhambri beat Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniel Gimeno-Traver in round one of the Aussie Open. Photo / NZ Herald

It's taken a long time, but New Zealand has a male tennis player into the second round of a main draw at the Australian Open.

Aucklander Michael Venus combined with India's Yuki Bhambri to defeat Spaniards Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-2, 7-5 in blistering heat in the first round of the Australian Open.

The last time a Kiwi male made the second round of singles or doubles was when Brett Steven reached the doubles quarter-finals in Melbourne in 1998 with American Pat Galbraith.

For Venus and Bhambri to go that far in the tournament may be a step too far, but for the 26-year-old Venus, who is ranked 127 in the world in doubles, it was a step in the right direction.

They played a measured game in the first set, gaining an early break of serve before Venus was able to serve out the match with two big aces.

The second set was tighter with the Spaniards teeing off on their shots from the baseline while Bhambri played a number of delicate touch shots. Again it was up to Venus to serve out the match, which he did with an ace.

After the match Venus struggled to hold back the high of winning.

"I'm pretty excited. I don't really know what to say. I'm walking around with a pretty big smile on my face right now," said Venus.

"We're very pleased with the result. They are good players and we knew we'd have to play well. Yuki and I play well as a team. They both hit big shots from the back of the court. They weren't that comfortable at the net. We decided to get into the net and close it out as soon as possible."

Despite playing on court 22, about as far away from the glamorous Rod Laver Arena as you could get, it was an experience Venus will not forget.

"It's exciting to be around seeing all the guys and everything they are doing. Being around this tournament is what you dream about, practise for and do everything for."

Venus and Bhambri, who won a wildcard tournament to take their place in the Australian Open, now face Jean Rojer (Netherlands) and Horia Tecau (Romania) who are the 10th seeds. Rojer is a regular player at Auckland's Heineken Open while Tecau won the New Zealand event with local Marcus Daniel in 2010. Tecau and Rojer were seen courtside scouting out their opponents.

"I'm sure they probably hadn't seen us play before and they were probably wondering who these guys were," said Venus.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 17 Apr 2014 17:52:07 Processing Time: 551ms