Kiwi success in doubles at the Australian Open
DAVID LONG IN MELBOURNE
New Zealand success at the Australian Open has continued with Michael Venus becoming the first Kiwi male to win a main draw game at a Grand Slam for 16 years.
In the sweltering heat of court 22, Venus and his Indian partner Yuki Bhambri defeated the Spanish pairing of Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-2 7-5.
The last New Zealand man to win a main draw match at a Grand Slam was Brett Steven in 1998 when he and Australian Patrick Galbraith made the quarterfinals in Melbourne.
Since then James Greenhalgh has been the only Kiwi to play in a men's draw, but he failed to win in any of his three Grand Slam appearances.
Venus and Bhambri had to win a wildcard qualifying tournament to make the first round, however, they played with confidence and served and volleyed better than their Spanish opponents.
The pair got a break in the third game of the first set to set the tone for the match.
In the sixth game Bhambri served back from being 0-40 down and saved a further break point to win the game.
The Kiwi/Indian combo broke again in the next game and Venus served out the set with back to back aces.
There were no breaks in the second set until the 11th game where Bautista Agut buckled under the pressure.
All that was left to do was for Venus to serve it out and he did so, sending down one more ace along the way.
In the second round they'll be up against it again as they take on the 10th seeds Horia Tecau from Romania and Jean-Julien Rojer from the Netherlands.
Tecau will be well known to New Zealanders after he teamed up with Kiwi Marcus Daniel to win the doubles at the Heineken Open in 2010.
- Fairfax Media