New Zealand Davis Cup team named for World Group 1 tie against Korea Republic

Tuesday, 07 September 2021

A five strong New Zealand Davis Cup tennis team has been named for next week’s World Group 1 tie against the Korea Republic in the United States.  The tie is being held on the 18th and 19th of September NZT on grass at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. New Zealand is unable to host the tie on home soil due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The venue is in proximity to New York, where the US Open takes place this week. 

Experienced singles player Rubin Statham will spearhead the team playing in his 32nd Davis Cup tie for New Zealand alongside world number 21 ranked doubles player Michael Venus and 43rd ranked Marcus Daniell, the Olympic Bronze medal winning team from Tokyo. US based college players Finn Reynolds and Isaac Becroft complete the five strong line-up.

Tennis NZ High Performance Manager Christophe Lambert (is currently in New York and has been coaching the Kiwi players including Erin Routliffe in the draw at the US Open. He heads to Rhode Island soon for the Davis Cup) replaces regular captain Alistair Hunt who is sitting out the tie, due to Tennis NZ COVID protocols restricting travel numbers overseas. 

Lambert is confident the team can deliver. 

“Our Olympic bronze medallists (Mike and Marcus) will lead the team with their experience. Rubin is one of the most achieved players in the New Zealand team and we have two new young guys who are going to discover Davis Cup and who are very good additions to the team.” Lambert said. 

The tie presents a huge opportunity for New Zealand to potentially qualify for the 2022 Davis Cup Qualifiers. However, it will be a difficult assignment with the Korean team expected to be spearheaded by top 100 ranked singles player Soowoo Kwon. (76) It is also likely to include Duckhee Lee who has been as high as 130 in the world and is currently ranked 373rd

“We have a big chance on grass. They love when things are pretty clean, they like to have rhythm when things are pretty clean, good bounces so the deal will be to make them uncomfortable on the grass and I am sure all the guys will be able to do that.” Lambert said. 

The eight highest-ranked winners of the World Group I ties will automatically progress to the 2022 Qualifiers, where some of the biggest tennis nations in the world will compete for a spot in the 2022 Finals. The four lowest-ranked winners will take part in an additional knock-out tie in November, with the two winners progressing to the 2022 Qualifiers and two losers contesting the 2022 World Group I Play-offs. The losing nations from the World Group I ties will compete in the World Group I Play-Offs in 2022. 

Tennis NZ High Perforamance Director Christophe Lambert is in New York and has been working closely with the Kiwis in the draw at Flushing Meadows

NZ Player Profiles 

Name: 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. 

Name: 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. 

Name: 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. 

Name: 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. 

Name: 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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