Daniell chasing career best result in Melbourne

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

New Zealand doubles player Marcus Daniell and his Austrian partner Philipp Oswald look to break new ground at the Australian Open on Wednesday. They chase a place in their first Grand Slam semi-final. But to achieve a career first Daniell and Oswald must topple the 5th seeds and defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. The American and British combination have already eliminated the other Kiwis in the draw, Artem Sitak and British partner Jonny O’Mara in the first round and Michael Venus and his Aussie partner John Peers in a tight third round encounter.

“This will be the third quarter final I’ve played in. (Australian Open 2018, Wimbledon 2019) I came within touching distance of a semi-final the first time I made the quarters here and lost 7-5 in a third set breaker. I’ve been close, and it would be a big step, but I think we are both ready for it. The legacy we want to leave is we want to have been considered one of the best teams in the world for the final years of our careers and this is a good opportunity to make a mark.” Daniell said.

Daniell and Oswald have played Ram and Salisbury twice since joining forces as a team in late 2019. Although they lost both matches, they were close and Daniell senses it will be similar again on Wednesday.

“They have been one of the better teams in the world for the last year and a half but the way that OZ and I are playing I think if we put our tennis on court, we are tough to beat.”

“The key for us is not to worry too much about what the other guys are doing. If we execute our game well then, we are difficult to beat. The way those guys play it’s the same thing, I think it will be less about strategy and more about execution. So, it’s about hitting the spots on your serve and going big on the returns and make use of your little half chances.”

Since joining forces with Oswald in late 2019 Daniell has felt as a team, they are better than their rankings suggest, and they should be contending at the big tournaments. By reaching the quarters in Melbourne Daniell is projected to climb to 40 and Oswald to 37. Their big goal is being ranked high enough to gain entry together in all the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments which are the big events outside the Grand Slams.

“A quarter final is great and if you had said in the middle of two weeks of hard lock down, I would make a quarter final, I would have taken it.” Daniell said. “But the reality is a quarter final isn’t going to vault us into the ranking band that will guarantee us to play the Masters throughout the year. What we need for that is at least a semi-final or further.”

Daniell and Oswald spent 14 days in hard quarantine last month and it’s taken a while for them to get back to their peak fitness.

“Having two days off between matches is good for us. We did do a double header day after day but coming out the back end of hard quarantine you are always playing a tightrope game with your body versus how many balls you can hit. So, for us having another day off to get our bodies really fresh for the quarter final is a good thing.” Daniell said.

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