New Zealand doubles player Marcus Daniell will achieve a career high ranking next week after beating the world's top ranked team at the Swiss Indoors tournament in Basel.
Daniell has teamed up with British player Dominic Inglot to beat Finland's Henri Kontinen and Australian John Peers 7-6 (5) 6-3. Kontinen and Peers won the Australian Open in January and are leading the race to the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
The Basel result is significant because it's an ATP 500 tournament which carries twice the number of ranking points and more prize money than most events Daniell plays on tour, ATP 250 tournaments like Auckland's ASB Classic.
"It was pretty incredible and this week we had to come through qualifying to make the main draw, we saved a match point yesterday, so to get out of trouble and come through today was pretty fantastic," Daniell said.
Daniell and Inglot got to play on centre court and had an amusing experience before the match.
"It's amazing being in this atmosphere. Before our first warm up as we walked on there was a big crowd and a big round of applause. We soon realised it wasn't for us walking on but for Roger Federer walking off. So it's nice to be around these guys and to see the buzz they create."
Daniell and Inglot will play their quarter final against either wildcards Marc-Andrea Huesler and Nenad Zimonjic or French pair Adrian Mannarino and Benoit Paire in a couple of days.
The Kiwi is not playing with his regular partner, Brazilian Marcelo Demoliner who is instead playing with American Sam Querrey in the Vienna tournament.
"It's a bit of a shame, basically if we had done well in Stockholm last week (lost in first round) we wouldn't have been able to play anywhere this week at the 500's because we wouldn't have been able to get to the tournaments to sign in for qualifying. So Marcelo took the opportunity to play with Querrey which meant he was guaranteed to play this week, and playing main draw is big difference money wise and points wise."
Daniell is already at a career high 41 in the ATP rankings but after this morning's win he is projected to climb into the top 40 for the first time.
"This is where I want to be playing, I have qualified for a few 500's this year and to be now winning matches, it's all part of progress of trying to get to the top. Every time I play these tournaments on centre court against the biggest teams in the world, I get more comfortable and feel like I can be a little more aggressive and put a little more personality out on court," Daniell said.
The 27-year-old has been struggling with a hip problem since the grass court season so is thrilled to be able to pull off as career best win.
"It's amazing to do this at this stage of the year, the body is not feeling as fresh as it was in January but it's an opportunity to make a lot of points. The hip has been bothering me since the start of the grass court season. When I go back to NZ I will be working closely with physio Murray Hing, and I just have to put in a big rehab block before the 2018 season."
Daniell has had a mixed year results wise, with a 50 percent win loss record, earning just over US$150,000 in prize money. He started the year ranked 53 and will end it inside the top 40.
He finished runner up at the Brazil Open and also the Chengdu Open while reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.
"There have been a lot of positives, one is that we put ourselves in the position eight or ten times to make the jump to the next level, unfortunately it didn't result in the big point's jump we had hoped for. As a result we are at 40 in the world rather than top 30 where we wanted to be when we started the year," Daniell said.
The Kiwi thinks his game has improved from where it was at the end of last season, most notably his forehand.
"When I started the year it was known on tour that you could get a few soft points if you went to my forehand side on the return and I have really solidified that side and made it a bit of a weapon and guys are not serving there on big points anymore, so that's a nice hole to have plugged. Other than that I am really happy with my game."
Daniell is unsure whether he will continue with regular partner Demoliner in 2018.
"There will always be some sort of chat whether it's a summary and a go forward or a summary and split, I'm not sure yet but I am positive about the work done this year and progress we have made."
One change he has made, and it's a big one for a kid from a Masterton farm is to his diet, recently becoming a vegetarian.
"It's based on a lot of reading, both on ethical side but more importantly on the environmental side, cutting out meat intake. The dieticians and nutritional experts I have spoken to have discovered that there's no loss if you cut meat out of the diet as an athlete. I feel good about the decision internally and emotionally and I have a lot of energy and am finding it a lot easier than expected to find good vegetarian food on tour.