Kiwi doubles trio return home for ASB Classic
Our three kiwi doubles specialists are all back in New Zealand preparing for their favourite tournament of the year.
New Zealand’s top player Michael Venus has had another successful season on tour, after pairing up with new partner South African Raven Klassen. In their first outing at the ASB Classic, the new doubles combination reached the semi-final which set the tone for the year.
Venus and Raven won their first ATP title together in Marseille, reached another three finals including their best result of the season, advancing to the final of Wimbledon. The pair went down in a five-set thriller against world number one pairing Mike Bryan and Jack Sock. The big hitting kiwi sits comfortably at number 16, while Raven is just ahead on 15 in the world.
“I’m really looking forward to play at home, Raven and I have hit our strides and have put in some solid performances in our first season playing together so it would be awesome to kick off 2019 with a win at home!” says Michael Venus.
Second ranked Kiwi Artem Sitak also hit top form this year, reaching his career high doubles ranking of 32 in the world in September. Sitak played with a few different partners this year but has still found success, winning Newport with John Erlich and reaching a further three finals (Estoril, Brazil, New York) and four semi-finals (Winston-Salem, Basel, Antwerp, s-Hertogenbosch).
Riding high after his win in Newport, Sitak changed partners for Wimbledon and reached the quarter-finals with Divij Sharan before falling to eventual champions Mike Bryan and Jack Sock. 34th ranked Sitak has entered the ASB Classic with American Austin Krajicek.
Marcus Daniell has had another consistent year on tour with several quarter-finals appearances, a semi-final berth in Hamburg and two more finals. The Wairarapa native changed partners mid-season and has found his groove with Dutch player Wesley Koolhof. The pair will come together in January to play the ASB Classic. Daniell still counts winning the ASB Classic in 2010 as a wildcard as his career highlight.
Despite the highs and lows of tour life, the three Kiwis have excelled with Venus winning eight ATP doubles titles, Sitak has four ATP doubles titles and Daniell has captured three ATP doubles in his career.
The doubles field itself is the strongest its been in recent history with the inclusion of the most successful doubles team in history. The American duo, Mike and Bob Bryan will start their 21st season on tour in Auckland before jetting off to the first Grand Slam of the year in Melbourne.
The entertaining pair have held the world number one doubles ranking jointly for 438 weeks, and consecutively for 139 weeks.
This brings another scheduling headache for the tournament, on Monday and Tuesday the Bryans brothers and Kiwi doubles pairs will be scheduled to play plus next gen stars Denis Shapovalov and Hyeon Chung, champions Tomas Berdych, Roberto Bautista-Agut, Gael Monfils so some of these players will be pushed to the outside courts.