10 July 2010

New Zealand will have a mammoth task if they are to win the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group II semi final tennis tie against Pakistan after dropping the vital doubles in straight sets in two and a half hours of play.

The Kiwi pairing of Marcus Daniell (below, front) and Michael Venus (below, back) were defeated by the experienced pair of Aisam Qureshi and Aqeel Khan 7-6(6) 6-3 6-2 to give Pakistan a two matches to one lead over the home side at the new indoor all-sports venue in Hawera.

Despite their inexperience – Venus in his first Davis Cup tie and Daniel having been in just a couple, the Kiwi duo took it to the Pakistanis in the first set and were at 6-6 in the tiebreak but couldn’t sustain the effort as Qureshi in particular stepped up the pace and showed how he made the quarterfinals of doubles at Wimbledon just over a week ago and why he is ranked at 37 in the world. The unorthodox Khan also played one of his best matches for many years for the Pakistan team as well.

In the second set the Kiwis had their serves broken twice, while the third set had the visiting side race away a bit more to score the straight set match.

The tie now comes down to the reverse singles starting at 11am on Sunday with Kiwi No1 Rubin Statham to take on Qureshi in the vital first game followed by Venus against Khan.

“We always knew it was going to be tough,” said team captain, Marcel Vos after the doubles loss. “We were zero for nine in the break points in the first set, but we just couldn’t break them. It was a lot closer than the score suggests.  My boys played good today. Their number two, Khan played well today – he admitted it was his best match in 10 years. We always knew we were up against a world class doubles player.”

“This tie can go either way still. We know what we have to do and think we can still do it,” said a disappointed Vos who still believes his side can stage a comeback victory to win overall. “Rubin is playing well and will have to take on Qureshi and he can do that. We are favourite to win the second singles if it goes that far. I’d rather have Rubin in than anyone else he’s going to have to step in up for us again. He’s got the experience and the record.”

On day one of the clash Statham beat Khan in easy straight sets while Venus lost a dramatic five setter on debut 15-13 in a match which lasted over four hours to Qureshi.

Results:

Day 1:

Rubin Statham(New Zealand) bt Aqeel Khan(Pakistan) 6-4 6-0 6-0

Aisam Qureshi(Pakistan) bt Michael Venus(New Zealand) 7-6(2) 4-6 6-2 2-6 15-13

Day 2:

Qureshi/A Khan(Pakistan) bt Venus/Marcus Daniell(New Zealand) 7-6(6) 6-3 6-2

9 July 2010

Qureshi, aged 30 beat New Zealand debutant Michael Venus (below) in a match which lasted 4 hours and 36 minutes, with the final set taking 2 hours and three minutes for a 7-6(2) 4-6 6-2 2-6 15-13 win to the Pakistani.


 

Venus had three matches points overall and was actually serving for the match at 5-2 in the fifth set but was broken and then had Qureshi hold serve. The experience of Qureshi showed through despite his visibly tired legs.

The loss was devastating for the large and vocal crowd and the team overall with captain Marcel Vos, almost at a loss for words after the match.

"Mike just gave it everything, but unfortunately just came out short in the fifth set. He’s a great asset to the team. He fought all the way. I’m really proud of him, it just didn’t work out in the end. The result is so disappointing…but anyway it’s one all and we must look forward to the next match," said Vos

The match took one hour 54 minutes for Statham to complete the victory despite a shaky start.

"At the start I came out a bit nervous playing within myself a bit too much. I then got the feel and gained in confidence. I then started playing really well. He’s a tricky player to play and can give you troubles. His style is not what you’re used to," said Statham referring to the unorthodox right-handed Khan who hit forehands with two hands and backhands with one hand.

With a large number of long rallies in the first set Statham was forced to grind out points but was able to break his opponents serve in the first game of each set to gain the vital advantage.

The doubles match which has Marcus Daniell and Venus set to clash with Qureshi and Khan is schedule to start at 2pm on Saturday, however teams are able to change combinations prior to the match.

"We have options for the doubles they don’t," said Vos. "Qureshi is their strength in doubles, but he will be tired."

Results:

Rubin Statham(New Zealand) bt Aqeel Khan(Pakistan) 6-4 6-0 6-0

Aisam Qureshi(Pakistan) bt Michael Venus (New Zealand 7-6 4-6 6-2 2-6 15-13