NZ and Venezuela level after day one of Davis Cup tie in Auckland

Friday, 06 March 2020

New Zealand and Venezuela are level at 1-1 after the opening day’s singles rubbers in the Davis Cup tennis tie in Auckland.

Venezuelan number two Luis David Martinez has beaten Ajeet Rai 5-7 6-4 6-2 in the second singles rubber after Finn Tearney defeated Jordi Munoz 6-4 6-4 in the opening match of the tie.

Tomorrow’s doubles now has added importance with New Zealand featuring ATP pros Marcus Daniell and Artem Sitak overwhelming favourites against Munoz and Martinez.

Rai looked to be in control of his match against Martinez when he won the opening set 7-5 and went out to a 2-0 lead in the second set. But his 30-year-old opponent had other ideas and battled back into the match winning four straight games and edging the second set 6-4.

Rai served for a 3-2 lead at 40-15 in the decider but was broken and broken again in the 7th game and Martinez served out the match in 2 hours 17.

Tearney earlier opened proceedings with straight sets victory in 1 hour 19 over Jordi Munoz.

The 29-year-old Kiwi weathered a storm in the latter stages of the first set after he had raced to a 5-2 lead.

But Munoz rallied with a break back when Tearney was serving for the set and then held to put the pressure on the 29-year-old Kiwi.

Tearney served out the set 6-4. He made a superb forehand cross court passing shot to break Munoz in the opening game of the second set.

Munoz broke back immediately for 2-2 on the back of a Tearney double fault. However, the 20-year-old Spanish based Venezuelan dropped serve in the very next game. Games went with serve for the remainder of the set although Tearney did face a break point in the 8th game and two while serving for the match in the 10th game.

It was a special occasion for the New Zealanders, marking the 100th anniversary of the first Davis Cup tie to be held in NZ between Australasia and the United States.

The prize for the winner of the tie is a place in September’s World Group qualifying round against a losing team from this week’s qualifiers.

At this stage Rai is scheduled to play the first reverse singles rubber against Munoz after the doubles with Tearney to play Martinez in the final rubber if needed to decide the tie.

Captain Alistair Hunt does have the option of making changes to his team and New Zealand’s most capped Davis Cup player Rubin Statham is a possibility to play the singles.

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