Venus up against top-20 Spaniard
NEW Zealand’s Michael Venus has been drawn against 2016 ASB Classic champion Roberto Bautista Agut.
It’s a tough first round assignment for the doubles specialist, with Bautista Agut the tournament’s fifth seed.
With the top four seeds given first round byes, Venus would have hoped for someone not quite as good as the Spaniard, ranked 19 in the world.
Venus’ last singles match was against Xia Zihao, of China, who was ranked 800, and the Kiwi lost that 7-6 7-6.
Venus doesn’t even have a singles ranking these days, but his talent in this form of the game shouldn’t be underestimated.
The only reason he devoted himself to doubles was because he could make a better living in this form of the game.
Venus has a huge serve and a strong volley. However, against Bautista Agut, whose strength is his consistency, he will have to be extremely aggressive, look to win points as quickly as possible and not get drawn into long rallies.
It could well be that the Venus v Bautista Agut clash is the feature match tomorrow evening as they both arrived in the country early.
‘‘It’s a great draw [for Venus],’’ Classic tournament director Karl Budge said.
‘‘Mike is going to have to go out there and play his game.
‘‘The reason why I gave him a wildcard is because he can go out there and hurt people and that won’t change against Bautista Agut.
‘‘If Mike is on his game, he’ll push Bautista Agut all the way.’’
There are plenty of other mouth-watering contests in the first round. Like four-time Classic champion David Ferrer playing Wu Yibing, of China, who was given a wildcard for the tournament.
Two of the most promising young players on the circuit will go head to head, with the eighth seed, Andrey Rublev, of Russia, going up against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Denis Shapovalov will play a qualifier first up, but if he wins that match he’ll play Juan Martin del Potro in the second round.
Doubles specialist Michael Venus.