Venus pushes Paire in first-round loss

New Zealand wildcard Michael Venus can’t help but feel some regrets after losing a tightly fought match with world No.18 Benoit Paire at the Auckland Tennis Classic.

In what on paper looked like a one-sided affair between fifth seed Paire and wildcard Venus – ranked in the 600s – the 28-year-old Kiwi pulled out a confident performance that made the flashy Frenchman work for the 6-4 7-6 win.

Paire managed to convert his only break point in the first set, while Venus missed out, failing to convert any of his three break point opportunities.

While the Frenchman looked typically relaxed moving around the court, the games didn’t come easy in the second set as Venus fiercely contested each point and up 5-4, Venus was unable to capitalise on a set point.

The Auckland crowd roared at each turn for Venus and he held serve, pushing the set out to a tie-breaker, which he eventually lost 7-4.

A disappointed Venus afterwards told reporters despite the tight match, he had regrets about his performance.

“There was some good shots on those points and I didn’t take them, and against those guys you don’t get so many chances,” he said.

“I felt comfortable on the court with him. I didn’t have to do anything too special… But on those bigger points I didn’t trust myself.”

Beyond the match, Venus admitted his performance had made him disappointed there wasn’t many singles tournaments left in his future.

“Unfortunately with the changes to how they’re doing the qualifying draw, it doesn’t look like I’ll get to play qualifiers in ATPS anymore,” he said.

“I guess I’m a bit sad about it. Especially playing out here against some of the top 20, where I feel I can play here…. But that’s life.”

He will on Wednesday join doubles partner Mate Pavic of Croatia against Australian-Brazilian duo Chris Guccione and Andre Sa.

The other match featuring New Zealanders on Tuesday, between Kiwis wildcard doubles team Finn Tearney and Wesley Whitehouse and the US team of Nicholas Monroe and Donald Young, was postponed due to rain.

On Monday, the other New Zealander in the men’s singles, Finn Tearney, went down in straight sets to American Donald Young.

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