Venus and Puetz go down fighting in Indian Wells Masters quarter finals
It wasn’t quite the best 34th birthday present for New Zealand’s top ranked doubles player Michael Venus in his semi-final at the Indian Wells Masters. Venus and his German partner Tim Puetz have been beaten 6-3 4-6, 10-5 by Russians Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev in one hour 21 minutes.
The Russian combination are hard hitting singles players with Rublev 5th and Karatsev 23rd on the ATP rankings. They dominated the opening set breaking Puetz in his first service game before the German rallied to hold from 0-40 in his second service game. But they broke Venus to take the opening set in 30 minutes.
Momentum can change quickly in doubles though and from 40-love Karatsev dropped serve early in the second set with Venus putting away the volley on the deciding point. Puetz then saved a break point to consolidate the break of serve and lead 3-1. After Rublev held to love Venus then faced a break point but saved it in his next service game to hold for 4-2. Karatsev saved three break points from 15-40 to hold his next service game. Games went with serve throughout the remainder of the set, but Venus had a nervous moment serving for the set at 5-4, taken to deuce. But a powerful first serve saw Puetz put away an easy volley to clinch the set.
Venus and Puetz got an early mini break in the tiebreak and led 3-0 but quickly surrendered the advantage when the Russians won the next five points in a row. When they won both points on Venus’s serve, they led 7-4 and went on to complete a deserved win. The Russian pair converted 2 of 10 break point chances in the match with Venus and Puetz successful from one of four.
Despite the defeat it’s been a superb tournament for Venus and Puetz who defeated second seeds and US Open champions Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram in the second round and fifth seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau in the quarter finals.
Venus and Puetz share US $117,240 ($166,098 NZ) between them.
Venus and Puetz are scheduled to play next week’s ATP 250 tournament in Antwerp as they head to Europe for the indoor season which will also include the ATP 500 tournament in Vienna before they end their season at the Paris Masters 1000 tournament.