AO Doubles wrap - win and a loss for New Zealand pairs

Thursday, 18 January 2024

A win and a loss for New Zealanders in the Australian Open in doubles as rain continued to hinder play on outside courts.

Women's fourth seeds, Erin Routliffe and Canadian Gaby Dabrowski won their opening round match against a couple of talented teens to seal their place in the second round, but that only came after their match had been delayed from the previous day.

The US Open champions beat the teenage alternate combination of Linda Fruhvirtova (Czech Republic) and Ashlyn Krueger (United States) 6-1 7-5 on court 15, the furthest court from Rod Laver Arena.

"They're a really young and talented team," said Routliffe  "We knew we were going to have to focus on us. Every tournament in the first round is nerve wracking, especially a Slam, but I think we handled it really well."

It's the third consecutive year Routliffe has played at the Australian Open, but the first time she has tasted success. 

"This is my third and I have never won a women's doubles match here so it's nice to get that one done. It's the start of the year we haven't had too many matches together. Definitely happy to get through and just excited for the next one," said the ninth ranked Routliffe.

In the second round they will face the experienced Russian pair of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Veronika Kudermetova in what is regarded as a tough second round match.

"They are an amazing team. I think they've won a couple of Slams with different people. Kudermetova been number one in the world. but we'll just do our thing and fight hard."

Earlier in the day Marcus Daniell and Brazil's Marcelo Demoliner were beaten in a dramatic match 7-6(3) 2-6 6-7(12) in 2 hours 33 minutes by the Australian wildcard pair of John Millman and Edward Winter on court six in blustery conditions and after repeated rain delays.

The match was played on  the new court 6 which is also regarded as a new fun court with a new bar on one side to try and generate atmosphere, which sometimes gets out of hand.

For Daniell it was a tough experience.

"We knew it was going to be a big crowd today in potentially Millman's last match, we were definitely playing against the crowd out there. Unfortunately we didn't put a great effort and it was close but no cigar," said Daniell.

"I do think we were starting to feel a bit of mojo in the first rain break. Eventually at 4-4 in the third it's a bit of a crap shoot. It's absolutely brutal, a hard one to deal with.".  

For Daniell the match was his first Grand Slam since the same tournament in 2022. Injury has held him back from the sport as he bids to try and make the Olympics in Paris later this year. He will now play Davis Cup for New Zealand against Turkey in two weeks time in Auckland before looking at his schedule

The third New Zealander, Michael Venus had his match cancelled on Thursday after rain delays and now has to play twice on Friday with his first round doubles and also first round Mixed Doubles. 

Venus and Jamie Murray start the day on court 6 against Ariel Behar (Uruguay) and Czech Adam Pavlasek in the first round.

Later he'll take the court again with Indonesian Aldila Sutjiadi against Routliffe and American Jackson Withrow fourth match on court 5. 

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