Venus pre­pares for ATP Fi­nals af­ter year he’ll never for­get

Sunday Star-Times - - SPORT - DAVID LONG Michael Venus

Michael Venus ticked off a few mem­o­rable achieve­ments dur­ing his last over­seas trip and is aim­ing more suc­cess on his fi­nal foray of 2017.

The 29-year-old Venus spent last week in Auck­land, mak­ing a short visit home be­fore the Asian swing of the men’s cir­cuit, then hope­fully play­ing in the ATP World Tour Fi­nals in Lon­don in Novem­ber.

It’s a last big push in what’s been an in­cred­i­ble year for New Zealand’s top ten­nis player, win­ning the dou­bles French Open with Ryan Har­ri­son, then get­ting to the mixed dou­bles fi­nal at the US Open with Chan Hao-ching from Tai­wan.

He’s also climbed to 15 in the world and is close to con­firm­ing his place at the World Tour Fi­nals at the O2 Arena.

The top eight dou­bles teams in the world play in it, with Venus and Har­ri­son cur­rently sev­enth. But even if they are squeezed out there’s an­other rule that is likely to see them make it in.

‘‘There is one spot for a team which has won a Grand Slam that’s I had no idea who she was, so I Googled her and saw her rank­ing was 10 in the world and thought this could work. not in the top eight,’’ Venus said.

‘‘The teams that have won Aussie Open and Wim­ble­don have al­ready qual­i­fied and the team that won the US Open (Jean-Julien Ro­jer and Ho­ria Te­cau) have about 4500 points.

‘‘Typ­i­cally the cut of has been around 3500, so those guys should get in and we’ll then get in no mat­ter what.

‘‘But I would like us to qual­ify points wise and if we can have some suc­cess in Asia we can take care of that our­selves.’’

Mak­ing the World Tour Fi­nals would be the per­fect way to fin­ish off his best im­prove an bal­ance.

Just for mak­ing it in, he’d pick up $64,000 of prize money, there’s $25,000 for each round robin match they win and he’d get $323,000 if he and Har­ri­son were to win the tour­na­ment un­de­feated.

It’s not bad for a week’s work and adds nicely to the $642,000 Venus has earned this year, which is al­most half he’s won in his en­tire ca­reer.

‘‘I’ve watched it on TV and it looks like an amaz­ing event,’’ Venus says of the World Tour sea­son ever and also al­ready healthy bank Fi­nals. ‘‘It’s all court lit up.’’

In the mixed dou­bles fi­nal at the US Open, he and Chan lost to Swiss leg­end Martina Hingis and Jamie Mur­ray 6-1 4-6 10-8 in front of a de­cent sized crowd at the 23,771 ca­pac­ity Arthur Ashe Sta­dium.

‘‘I met my part­ner for the first time when we were walk­ing out on court for our first match, so it was a quick learn­ing curve, but we got on well and had a great run,’’ Venus said. ‘‘To play on Arthur Ashe Sta­dium is some­thing you dream about, it’s the big­gest ten­nis court in the world and it was some­thing that was very cool.’’

Venus said the ar­range­ment to play with Chan came through her coach and once he did some re­search, thought she could be a good part­ner.

‘‘I was play­ing in Cincin­nati and dark, with just the we’d just won our quar­ter­fi­nal match,’’ Venus said. ’’I was on a bike in the gym and her coach came up to me and asked if I had a mixed dou­bles part­ner yet for the US Open and if not, did I want to play with his player.

‘‘At that time to be hon­est, I had no idea who she was, so I Googled her and saw her rank­ing was 10 in the world and thought this could work. So I said yes, why not?’’

Venus says the Kiwi/Tai­wan duo looks set to con­tinue into 2018 as they’ve al­ready agreed to team up at Jan­uary’s Aus­tralian Open.

‘‘Af­ter our semi­fi­nals match we were walk­ing back to the lock­ers and she said would I be in­ter­ested at play­ing at the Aussie Open and I said for sure,’’ Venus said.

‘‘We may as well keep go­ing with some­thing that’s work­ing, so we’ll have an­other crack at it over in Mel­bourne.’’

GETTY IMAGES

Ly­dia Ko has had her fair share of set­back this year but is com­ing into the Open in de­cent form. ‘You can’t make ev­ery­body happy, that’s the bot­tom line,’ she says.

REUTERS

Michael Venus and Chan Hao-ching will play to­gether again at next year’s Aus­tralian Open.

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