It's early days for Michael Venus in his new partnership with Raven Klaasen, but the signs are promising.
The Kiwi-South African duo progressed to the last four of the ASB Classic doubles tournament on Thursday night, after an thrilling 4-6 6-4 10-4 win over Marcin Matkowski (Poland) and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (Pakistan).
They did well to fight back after being dominated in the first set, and closed out the second with some clutch plays on the big points.
The new combination were then superb in the tie break, with Venus particularly impressive. He hit two searing aces, as well as an angled forehand winner which brought up match point.
"We needed to be patient," said Klaasen. "Midway through the first and second we didn't see any second serves; they both served huge and were hitting their spots. We decided to stay in points instead of being overly aggressive. It seemed to work for us."
Venus and Klaasen were helped by a brilliant atmosphere generated by a near capacity crowd, who stayed until after 11pm to cheer on the local boy and his partner.
"The crowd was amazing – especially for a doubles match," said Venus. "And to have everyone supporting us…that was even better. You definitely feel all the energy from the crowd; it makes us play better and definitely lifts our game…we can't thank them enough."
Venus struggled on serve for periods of the match – getting broken in both sets – but came good when it mattered.
"Each day my serve feels better and better," said Venus. "It's much easier for me having Raven at the net as well. We could keep the momentum through the entire tie break."
Their opponents on Friday will be Max Mirnyi (Belarus) and Phillip Oswald (Austria), who advanced to the last four via a walk over after one of their opponents pulled out with an injury.