New Zealand are in a tough position going into day two of their Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I Round I tie against Uzbekistan at the TECT Arena in Tauranga after losing the first two singles matches.
In day ones first match Kiwi No2 Rubin Statham lost to world No58 Denis Istomin 6-1 6-1 6-3 with Istomin showing all the experience of regularly playing top 20 opponents displaying powerful serves and groundstrokes winners, almost at will.
Statham did manage to break Istomin early in the third set and win two further games, but it proved to be a short lived revival as he was broken on his serve to love and the game ended with a backhand volley by Istomin into an open court.
In the second rubber New Zealand No1 Michael Venus went down 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-2 to Uzbek No2 Farrukh Dustov, in a contest which was initially promising for the local crowd and the home team.
A disappointed Venus tried to make the best of the situation afterwards, but was clearly frustrated after he started so well.
“It was a good first set and then it just went downhill from there. I just made too many mistakes. You just can’t miss that many balls. I had too many balls that I just made errors on. I just made too mistakes at the end of the day,” said Venus. When it comes to winning the doubles and keeping the tie alive with partner, Dan King-Turner, he was aiming for the positives. “We’ll just take it one match at a time. We’ll play the doubles hard tomorrow and just go from there. You never know what can happen. Dan and I are pretty pleased with how we are going. We’re doing well in doubles.”
The big-serving Venus did play well in the first set of his match stunning the Uzbek and looking every part of a winner, however, it was Dustov who had the best serving over the remainder of the match winning his serve with relative ease, while Venus started to struggle.
Non-playing team captain, Marcel Vos was straight-up with his appraisal of the days play.
“It’s disappointing obviously,” said Vos. “Istomin came out fired up and that put us on the back foot. Mike (Venus) came out strong, but he couldn’t keep that up and his opponent served better. I think we had a good plan which worked well in the first set for Mike. Dustov played better from then on and got to play his game. He served well and it caused problems.”
Regarding the vital doubles ties Vos said his players have still got some fight in them and he expected them to be ready to try and keep the tie alive.
“I’ve never liked losing. I’m disappointed. We’ve got five matches and we’re going to talk about it as a team. Our guys will go hard tomorrow in doubles,” said Vos.
In Saturday's doubles Venus and Dan King-Turner will play Dustov and Istomin at 3pm.
It's a match that New Zealand must win to stay in the tie, otherwise both of Sunday's reverse singles matches are dead rubbers.
There is live streaming of all matches with commentary on www.tennisnz.com