Michael Venus bows out but sets sights high

DAVID LONG IN MELBOURNE
Last updated 05:00 20/01/2014

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Having done better than expected in his first grand slam, New Zealand's Michael Venus has set his sights on playing at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Venus and his Indian partner, Yuki Bhambri, lost 6-3 6-2 to veteran doubles specialists Radek Stepanek from the Czech Republic and India's Leander Paes in the third round at the Australian Open yesterday.

The match was played in front of 5000 people on a packed Margaret Court Arena and while it was disappointing for Venus to lose, he can at least be pleased he did not drop his serve once over the match.

Venus will pocket $19,111 for making it to the last 16 at the grand slam and he will also pick up enough ranking points to move to about 105 in the world.

To play in Melbourne, he and Bhambri had to battle through a qualifying tournament, which was open to players from Asia and Oceania to enter.

For the other grand slams, Venus will have to get in by his ranking alone and, if he has a good couple of months on the Challenger circuit, he should be able to achieve that.

"I don't have many points coming off for the next few months, so it's a great opportunity that I've given myself," Venus told Fairfax Media.

"I've got to keep working for it, doing the right things and hopefully I'll be there for the French."

Bhambri and Venus won four matches to win the wildcard at the Australian Open and in their only other tournament together, at a Challenger in Illinois, in the United States, in July, they won that too.

That means that yesterday was the first time they have been defeated in 11 matches.

"It took guys like Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek to beat us," Bhambri said.

"So there are good things to look forward to and hopefully we can continue playing a whole lot this year, and hopefully he [Venus] will get up high in the rankings this year and play the grand slams."

Venus will play for New Zealand in the Davis Cup tie against China later this month and with the results he has had in Melbourne, he is likely to feature in the singles and doubles.

After that, he said, he was looking to play more tournaments with Bhambri to pick up those much-needed ranking points before the French Open in May.

"I am waiting on my visa but it looks like I am going to go to India for three weeks with Yuki," Venus said.

"We'll play three Challengers there, then there's one in China afterwards we're looking at and we'll figure out the schedule from there."

Meanwhile, there was an outstanding result for 15-year-old New Zealander Rosie Cheng in the junior section of the Australian Open yesterday.

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Cheng, who has a junior ranking of 273 and had to battle through the qualifying tournament, knocked out the 16th seed, Fanny Stollar from Hungary, 6-4 6-4.

- Fairfax Media

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