Perhaps the omens are good for New Zealand that Davis Cup players Rubin Statham and Marcus Daniell will compete in the singles final of the Maxim Financial Wellington Tennis Open.
Statham ranked 382 in the world and the defending champion in the Capital had the easier route to the final after a straight set win over New Zealand junior title holder Ajeet Rai.
For Statham making the final was expected, but for Daniell ranked 42 in the world in doubles it’s a rarity. Singles is not something he regularly plays or considers his strength. He had to overcome second seed Rhett Purcell from Auckland, who plays under a British flag in the semis in blustery conditions, eventually winning 6-2 0-6 6-4
“It was a strange match. I’m not really used to playing singles anymore and the way I used to play singles wasn’t really working….I just tried playing doubles on the singles court. The third set had a couple of calls which went my way. I’m happy I held my nerve,” said Daniell
“The final will be inside, out of the wind against Rubin (Statham) who is playing really well. It’s going to be a bit of a battle out there for me. It’s great to see him playing so well as we have Davis Cup next week and he’s going to be one of the key singles players, so hopefully I can give him so good practice for next week….”
Daniell has just returned from playing in the big Miami Masters and was going to spend some time at home but delays with fog in Wellington prevented this. He doesn’t mind playing singles at a venue he considers a second home.
“The way I look at it I’m hitting a lot of balls here and lot of serves and lot of returns which is always good. Apparently I won this event in 2008, which I didn’t realise.”
Earlier in the day Daniell had beaten sixth seed Jaden Grinter, Statham defeated Alex Hunt in straight sets, Rai had accounted for third seed Olly Sadler in his quarter-final and Purcell won over Daniell Brown.
The women’s final will expectantly have former world No.79 and currently 250th ranked player in the world, Julia Glushko as the favourite for the title. The Israeli player defeated Taranaki teen, Louise Waite in the quarters and then North Harbour teenager Elys Ventura in the semis.
Glushko will face second seed and last year’s finalist Leela Beattie who beat Southland junior Emilia Price in her semifinal.