Venus wins 20th ATP title, with Roland-Garros just days away

Saturday, 27 May 2023

Almost half of the ATP titles won by Kiwi doubles specialist Michael Venus have been on clay, and he has just added another one to the list.

The 35-year-old New Zealander and his British partner Jamie Murray won a tightly-fought doubles final at the Gonet Geneva Open in Switzerland early Sunday morning (NZT).

They beat the higher-seeded Argentinian/Spanish pairing of Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers 7-6(6), 7-6(3) in a match that lasted nearly two hours.

The timing of this win couldn’t be better, with the second Grand Slam of the year – Roland-Garros, the French Open – just days away.

Venus is already in Paris; he jumped on a train about an hour and half after the final finished in Geneva and got to the French capital on Saturday night (local time).

“It is always good to come into a Grand Slam having won matches and feeling good but the Grand Slams do pose different challenges,” he said from Paris.

Venus would know. He won Roland-Garros in 2017 with American partner Ryan Harrison.

This latest win in Geneva gives Venus his 20th ATP title.

Eight of those have been on clay.

“It is quite funny to think, considering the first time I stepped on a clay court I was 15,” he said.

“I think clay provides you with slightly more time which allows me to set up for my shots a little bit more and then I can be aggressive.”

Venus said you do get more extended points on clay, “which can provide for some entertaining rallies”.

“It does normally take me a little bit longer to get comfortable with my footing on it than others who have grown up on it.”

Venus and Murray won their first clay ATP title as a team at the Srpska Open in Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in late April. They then made it through to the quarter finals in both Madrid and Rome.

“We have had a good little run lately and been in some tight matches and come through those, so it has given us confidence,” Venus said.

The final in Geneva was always going to be a tough match, he said.

“Marcel and Horacio have been consistently one of the top teams for a number of years. They made the semi finals in Rome last week and then the finals in Geneva, so we knew they were playing well.”

Venus said during tight matches like the final in Geneva – with both sets decided by tie-breaks – he and Murray just try to stay positive with each other, “and talk through what we are feeling and seeing on court and what adjustments we need to make”.

This is the second time Venus has won the Gonet Geneva Open. He and Australian partner John Peers took out the doubles title in 2021.

“I think anywhere you have won before you have good memories going back, so it is always enjoyable,” Venus said.

“What feels good about this title is the things we have been working on and trying to implement are starting to come through in matches.”

He and Murray have now won three ATP Tour-level titles as a team, all of them this season – they also lifted the trophy at the Dallas Open in February.

Venus and Murray are now ranked 9th in the world on the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, which updates after every match completes.

“I’m excited to keep working hard and seeing what else we can achieve together,” Venus said.

Of course, the next challenge is Roland-Garros.

Venus said his wife and kids have joined him in Paris and so Sunday is a day off. He will spend time with his family and go to a pool or an amusement park.

“Then we will be back to the courts on Monday to prepare, as we will play Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said.

“Every day in sport can be completely different than the previous, so we will take the positives from the last week and things we learnt, and be ready to play our first match in Paris and keep improving as a team.”

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