New Zealand ready for Davis Cup World Group qualifier against Korea, Rep.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Captain Christophe Lambert is giving nothing away as to the choice of singles players for day one of the Davis Cup World Group qualifying tie against the Republic of Korea in Newport, Rhode Island.

The tie is being played at the iconic International Tennis Hall of Fame on grass due to New Zealand’s borders being closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

US based collegiate players Finn Reynolds and Isaac Becroft are vying with veteran Rubin Statham to play the opening day singles rubbers with Olympic Bronze medalists Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell certain to be picked for the doubles.  

The official draw ceremony is overnight Friday NZT and Lambert will unveil his choice then. While it would be a big call to omit 34-year-old Statham, New Zealand’s most experienced Davis Cup player, anything is possible.

“I have decided but I have a good idea of what I think we should do and everybody will know more tomorrow.” Lambert said.

“You are going to have the team info when you wake up and have your toast and cup of tea.” He added.

Despite Statham’s lack of match play on grass, it would be a huge surprise if Lambert opted for both rookies who are representing New Zealand for the first time.

“I will tell you just one thing whoever will play as they showed this week where we practiced everybody has given 100% in practice and everybody has helped each other on the practice courts. So, I have absolutely no problem to select whoever, and we have a team that is highly motivated.”

“Even if we are not the best team on paper, psychologically we're pretty strong. I look at the Korean team since the beginning of the week and they look a bit tired so it's a good sign for us. We are a team that's strong and happy and the guys are always wanting to hit more balls.” Lambert remarked.

Statham who has not played on Tour for the past 18 months due to Covid-19 feels ready after an intense week playing in Florida in the buildup.

“I got six matches last week in Florida so straight into the heat from New Zealand and that was something to adjust to initially, but I had a lot of match play and got better with every match.”

Venus who will team up with Daniell for the doubles rubber, is optimistic New Zealand can cause what would be an upset.

“I think it's just one match at a time one set at a time one point at a time, The last two times we've played Korea it's gone down to the last match, and we won one of those and lost one of those. So, it’s so it's always been close, I think everyone's pretty confident in their games and feeling good about things. It’s just about going out there believing, working together as a team and leaving it all out there and seeing what we can do.”

Becroft sums up the experience he had Reynolds have had alongside the three wise men of the Davis Cup team, Venus, Daniell and Statham.

“The main thing they told us on the first day is that you are playing for New Zealand whether you win or lose your own individual match there's one goal at the end of the week and that's to beat Korea, so just take it day by day, take care of things that's going to help not only yourself but all the other guys in the team to perform at their very best, taking more of a selfless look at things rather than if you are playing an event by yourself in the middle of the year it's just a bit different, team first and everyone's got the same goal.”

LIVE on Sky Sport 2:

Day 1 Sat 18/09 from 4:00 AM | Replay from 12:30 PM SS2

Day 2 Sun 19/09 from 2:30 AM | Replay from 4:00PM SS8

NZ PLAYER PROFILES

Rubin Statham 

Age: 34 (Born 24th April 1987) 

Height: 1.83m 

Year turned pro: 2004 

Playing Style: Right-Handed w/ two-handed backhand 

ATP Ranking History: Singles career high of #279 & Doubles #139. 

Current Rank: N/A 

Preferred Surface: Grass 

Bio: Statham is New Zealand’s longest serving Davis Cup member with 31 ties to his name. He also holds the record for the most singles victories at Davis Cup by a Kiwi with 26. At the 2019 ASB Classic in Auckland Statham cause a major upset by defeating South Korea’s Hyeon Chung who at the time was the #6 seed and world number #25 ranked player in straight sets 7-5,6-3 in the Men’s singles. 

Marcus Daniell 

Age: 31 (Born 9th November 1989) 

Height: 1.91m 

Year turned pro: 2008 

Playing Style: Right-handed w/ two-handed backhand 

ATP Ranking History: Singles career high of #500 & Doubles #34. 

Current Doubles Rank: Current doubles ranking #43 

Preferred Surface: Grass 

Bio: Daniell has reached 15 career ATP doubles finals where he has won the title 5 times, including a memorable debut victory at his home tournament in Auckland in 2010 as a wildcard. Daniell and partner Michael Venus won a bronze medal for New Zealand in men’s doubles at the recent Tokyo Summer Olympics. Daniell is a current member of the ATP Player Council, having been elected in 2020. 

Michael Venus 

Age: 33 (Born 16th October 1987) 

Height: 1.91m 

Year turned pro: 2009 

Playing Style: Right-handed w/ two-handed backhand 

ATP Ranking History: Singles career high #274 & Doubles #8 

Current Doubles Rank: Current doubles ranking #21 

Preferred Surface: Hardcourt 

Bio: Venus is one of New Zealand’s most successful tennis players in the open era with 15 ATP tour level titles to his name, one Grand Slam title and 19 appearances at the Davis Cup. Venus’ best results in Grand Slams were winning the title at the 2017 French Open and making the final at Wimbledon in 2018. Recently, Venus partnered with Marcus Daniell at the Tokyo Olympics and won a bronze medal for New Zealand. 

Finn Reynolds 

Age: 21 (Born 4th January 2000) 

Height: 1.82m 

Year turned pro: N/A 

Playing Style: Left-handed w/ two handed backhand 

ITF Ranking history: Career-high junior ranking #83 

Year-end rank 2021: N/A 

Preferred Surface: Grass 

Bio: Reynolds is one of New Zealand’s top talents rising through the ranks. In his junior career, Reynolds reached the 2017 boys Australian Open doubles final, achieved a career-high junior ranking of #83 and won the New Zealand national singles championship in 2017. Reynolds plays for NCAA Division 1 University of Mississippi. He has achieved ITA All-American 2020, 2021 and All-SEC 2021 and was nationally ranked number 1 for doubles in 2021. 

Isaac Becroft 

Age: 20 (Born 29th October 2000) 

Height: 1.77m 

Playing Style: Right-handed w/ two-handed backhand 

Preferred Surface: Grass 

Bio: Becroft won the ITF BNP Paribas Junior Open in both the singles and doubles at 16 years old. After a successful junior tennis career in Wellington, Becroft moved to the US where he represented Mississippi State in the 2019/20 season and posted a record of 11-9 in singles and 9-6 in doubles after a shortened season due to Covid-19. Recently, Becroft has transferred to Loyola Marymount University in California where he will represent the LMU Lions in NCAA Division 1. Becroft was the New Zealand National Champion in 2020. 

 

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