Daniell hoping for another big upset at Games

Last updated 15:17 27/09/2010

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Commonwealth Games

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New Zealand tennis player Marcus Daniell knows how to cause an upset or two.

The 21-year-old from Wairarapa did just that in January this year when he and Romanian partner Horia Tecau, a last minute wildcard doubles pairing, stormed to an unlikely Heineken Open title win in Auckland.

It may be asking too much for another dream run at the Commonwealth Games but Daniell, who is coming off a two-month stint on the sidelines with a back injury, plans to draw on his experience in Auckland in a bid to see if history can repeat in New Delhi.

He will partner Aucklander Rubin Statham in the doubles and both will play the singles as tennis makes its Games debut.

"I know that complete outsiders can have a good week and win because I've done that myself," Daniell said.

"Obviously we're not the highest ranked players, but you can have a good week and really get on a roll.

"There are always going to be the big guns that you have to play against but we do it every week and we're used to it."

Daniell readily acknowledges the two New Zealand men are not expected to even get close to the podium but they are determined to enjoy the experience and make the most of the opportunity.

Daniell has a world singles ranking of 775 while Statham is ranked at 350, but national coach Marcel Vos estimates both players will be ranked in the top 20 of those competing in New Delhi, and says anything could happen if they get on a run.

The doubles, however, would appear to be their best bet. They have played together before, most recently winning a challenger event in the United States in April, and are hopeful of going deep into the tournament.

"It would be amazing to bring home a medal and obviously we're going to try and do the best we can for New Zealand, but regardless of what happens with the results, I think it's going to be an amazing experience," said Daniell, who only started hitting balls again on September 19 but expects to be at 100 per cent for the Games.

Vos added: "If they click well and the draw works out well for us, I think they can have a good result, for sure."

Auckland's Marina Erakovic and Canterbury's Ellen Barry round out the four-strong New Zealand team and, like the men, both will play singles and doubles.

New Zealand No 2 Erakovic has also spent time out with injury (hand) and has seen her ranking plummet from the top 100 to 361 this year. Barry is ranked 437 in the world.

"Marina is an experienced doubles player, she's in the top 100, so she's always going to have a chance. Playing with Ellen, I know they are good friends, so if they click well they could do well," Vos said of their chances.

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Vos is also hoping to enter one or two teams in mixed doubles.

"I think we'll have to wait till we get there to see whether it's feasible," he said. "Also, playing three events in one week may be too much. But we'll look into it because I think we could make a good mixed doubles combination."

- NZPA

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