Trio of New Zealanders out of Heineken Open

DAVID LONG
Last updated 20:27 06/01/2014
Sebastian Lavie
Getty Images
BOWED OUT: Sebastian Lavie.

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Three New Zealanders played in the last round of qualifying at the Heineken Open today and it didn't come as much of a surprise to see all three bow out.

Artem Sitak, who has a world ranking 591, put up the best fight in his 6-1 3-6 6-1 loss to America's Donald Young who has a world ranking of 96.

Sitak recently won the New Zealand Championships and had a good win over Hiroki Kondo (ranked 282), so it has still been a pretty successful tournament for him, considering his ranking.

Sebastian Lavie (2152) on the other hand, was totally outclassed in his 6-2 6-2 defeat to Daniel Gimeno-Traver (82), but with there being such a huge gap in their rankings nothing else could have been expected.

Lavie hasn't beat a player with a ranking since December 2012 and it might be time for the 21-year-old to consider alternative career options.

The New Zealand No 2, Michael Venus (399), also had a disappointing afternoon, losing to Lucas Lacko (90) 6-2 6-2.

"He is obviously a very good player, top 100, has done well here previously," Venus said.

"I know I had to go out there and play well. I didn't and he took care of business."

Aside from the Davis Cup, the Heineken Open is the only time any New Zealand men's player gets to play in this country each year.

It's a sad state of affairs that Tennis NZ chose to scrap the Futures tournaments that were held here to save costs, but it means New Zealand players have to fork out more money to try to pick up ranking points in other parts of the world.

"It would be great if we did [have tournaments], but we don't," Venus said.

"There's no point in me getting upset about it, because that's not going to change it.

In the future, if they did have some here it would be very good for up and coming juniors to get some exposure and see what it's like out there.

"It would be a positive if they did get some here."

Venus will play doubles at Heineken Open with compatriot Rubin Statham and it's in this form of the game where his future seems to lie.

He has a respectable doubles ranking of 127 and has won a wildcard to play at the Australian Open with India's Yuki Bhambri next week.

Venus will be the first New Zealand male to play in the main draw of any Grand Slam since James Greenhalgh played in the doubles in Melbourne in 2000.

"I'm very excited about that," Venus said.

"It's something you dream about as a little kid, so being over there and playing in it is something I'm really looking forward to."

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While the 26-year-old Venus says he doesn't plan to give up on his singles ambition, he realises that he's become a better doubles player.

"The doubles ranking has kept climbing, the singles has stalled a bit," he said.

"If I keep doing well in doubles, then doubles it is, I guess."

It was one of the least exciting days in the tournament's history today with just one first round singles match in the day session, when Colombia's Santiago Giraldo defeated Albert Montanes of Spain 6-1 7-6.

Tomorrow things pick up with Statham playing Lacko. Fifth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber is next, against Pablo Carreno Busta from Spain.

The highlight comes in the second match of the evening session with Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis taking on American Steve Johnson.

There may or may not be some racquets broken by Baghdatis, but there definitely will be some thrilling tennis.

RESULTS

SINGLES QUALIFYING

Final round

[1] Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) def Sebastian Lave (NZL) 6-2 6-2

[2] Lukas Lacko (SVK) def [8] Michael Venus (NZ) 6-2 6-2

[3] Donald Young (USA) def Artem Sitak (NZL) 6-1 3-6 6-1

[4] Bradley Klahn (USA) def Steve Johnson (USA) 7-6 7-6

MAIN DRAW

First round

Santiago Giraldo (COL) def Albert Montanes (ESP) 6-1 7-6

[WC] Jack Sock (USA) def Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-3 6-4

Horacio Zeballos (ARG) def Filippo Volandri (ITA) 6-0 7-6

DOUBLES

First round

Eric Butorac (USA)/ Raven Klaasen (RSA) def Paul Hanley (AUS)/ Jonathan Marray (GBR) 6-2 7-6

- Fairfax Media

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