Returning to Wimbledon brings back special memories for Michael Venus

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Ahead of his first round match at Wimbledon, Michael Venus appears cautiously optimistic about how he and Tim Puetz may go at the third grand slam of the year.

New Zealand’s No 1 doubles player (also the world No 9) and his German partner reached the final in Halle, Germany two weeks ago, continuing their strong alliance.

They are the No 5 seeds in the gentlemen’s doubles at Wimbledon and although they have tricky first round opponents in Raven Klaasen from South Africa and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo, Venus is happy with how he and Puetz are playing.

“It’s unfortunate that the last few months Tim has been a bit hurt, but every time we’ve been on the court together I’ve felt like we’ve had good results and put ourselves in good positions in every match,” Venus said.

“That’s a real pleasing and exciting thing, but it’s another challenge here and we’ve got a tough first round. So we’re need to be ready to go, right from the beginning.”

Venus and Puetz have been regular partners since June 2021, when the Kiwi split with John Peers from Australia. 

They’ve won three titles since being together, including the illustrious Paris Masters last November and Venus feels they’re continuing to build as a team.

“We’ve got a really good understanding now,” he said. 

“Once you play with someone for long enough, you get to know what the other one likes to do and how we go about things as a team.

“We understand from being around each other more how we react in situations, how we can help each other and work through it.

“That’s the thing with playing with someone consistently and for a while, those little things help you get through the tough moments.”

The 39-year-old Klaasen and Melo, one year his junior, are at the back ends of their careers, but in doubles players can go on much longer than they can in singles and Venus knows they’ll be dangerous.

“They’ve both had great results here,” he said. 

“Marcelo won it five years ago. He made quarterfinals last year. Raven made quarterfinals last year and we made semis and finals the years before that.

“They like playing on grass and their games suit it. They’re also very experienced, so they know these situations.

“Obviously with Raven, we played together for long enough, so we know each other’s game inside out.”

The run Venus and Klaasen went on at Wimbledon in 2018 to reach the final, playing two matches on Centre Court, remains one of the highlights of Venus’s career, even though they lost to Jack Sock and Mike Bryan in the end, losing 7-5 in the fifth set.

“They were some of the fondest memories I’ve had being on a court,” Venus said. 

“As a kid, you look at Wimbledon as the pinnacle of all the tournaments and that’s where you dreamt of playing.

“So to be on Centre Court and play with the roof closed and then playing in the final also, it was unbelievable.

“Unfortunately we lost that final, but I was lucky to have quite a few friends that came over for the trip, who have been a big part of me getting to where I am, so it was great to be able to share that experience.”

Of the four grand slams, it feels like doubles is more appreciated at Wimbledon than at the other three.

Spectators don’t disappear once the singles matches have finished and they enjoy the entertainment that a quality doubles match can provide.

“You go around most clubs, a lot of people play doubles, especially as you get older, or playing socially,” Venus said.

“When you’re playing doubles you’re interacting with people and sometimes it can be more fun.

“But the British have a history of doing well in doubles here and they take pride in that. 

“Because of that, they’ve had good support of doubles in the past and people enjoy it.”

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