8 July 2011

The first match was won in relatively straightforward fashion by Rubin Statham 6-4 6-4 6-4 over Ruben Gonzales in two hours 20 minutes. Statham showed plenty of grit and determination to force errors in the flashier Gonzales.
Although the score was straight sets Statham was forced to work for each point in front of an enthusiastic crowd.
However the second match lasted close to four hours as Kiwi No1 Michael Venus defeated former top 100 player Cecil Mamiit 6-7(6) 7-6(4) 6-3 4-6 6-3.
A year ago Venus, 23, had lost a dramatic five set contest on the same court to a more experienced Pakistani opponent Asiam Qureshi 15-13 in the final set. This time he was to remain focussed and use his big serve to his advantage as the 35-year-old Mamiit appeared to fade in the fifth and Venus was able to break his serve in the seventh game to go ahead 4-3. From then on it was both players holding serves until Venus broke again to win 6-3.
From the outset the clash between Venus ranked at 305 in the world and Mamiit who no longer has a ranking but is part of Team Sharapova' as the Wimbledon finalists hitting partner, was always going to be a battle of the serves.
There were no breaks in the first set as Mamiit eventually won 8-6 in the tiebreak. The second set also went to a tiebreak, but this time Venus winning 7-4. In the third it was just one break of serve with Venus able to break in the fourth game to go ahead 3-1 and take the set 6-3.
The fourth set was serve-for-serve until the final game where Mamiit broke Venus to win 6-4.
Im feeling little bit sore and tired, said Venus after the match. I felt like I was serving well, hitting my spots and backing up well. I took my opportunities on returning when I got the opportunity. I was pretty frustrated losing the fourth set. I really tried to focus on those important points in the fifth set, said Venus.
The pressure now goes on Mamiit as the captain of his team and whether he plays himself in the doubles as well as any potential reverse singles.
The plan was to come out 2-0 ahead. It was a great performance from Rubin. And for Mike in a see-saw battle at the end. Im pleased Mike held his nerve at the end. Two-nil plays a lot different than 1-1. We're not taking anything lightly. We want to go out and finish the job tomorrow, said New Zealand non-playing captain, Marcel Vos.
The doubles match starts at 2pm with Artem Sitak and Marcus Daniell listed for the Kiwis against Gonzales and Jonny Arcilla, although combinations can be changed up to one hour before the scheduled start time.