Grand Slammer Venus lifts the Tennis bar

Apurv Shukla

New Zealand’s Michael Venus became the first Kiwi in 38 years to win a Tennis Grand Slam, at the French Open in Paris on June 10, 2017.

The last time a New Zealander held aloft a Grand Slam was in 1979 when Judy Chaloner won the Australian Open.

Pleasing win

Twenty-nine-year old Aucklander, Venus partnered the big serving American Ryan Harrison to beat Mexican Santiago Gonzalez and American Donald Young 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (7-4) 6-3 in the finals.

New Zealand tennis fans are familiar with all players in the finals as Harrison, Young and Gonzalez have been regulars at the Auckland ASB Open.

Venus is projected to rise as high as 15 in the ATP doubles rankings after his win.

Kiwi Tennis is in the best health it has been in years with Marcus Daniel, Artem Sitak and Michael Venus all doing well in the international doubles circuit and Marina Erakovic playing the main draw at Grand Slams.

India’s feats

India’s Rohan Bopanna became the fourth tennis player from that country to win a Grand Slam, when he partnered Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski to win the mixed doubles title at Roland Garros.

Playing his second Grand Slam final after reaching the US open finals seven years ago, Bopanna and Dabrowski saved two match points to secure a thrilling 2-6, 6-2, 12-10 win over Germany’s Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Colombia’s Robert Farah.

It also made Dabrowski (who was part of this year’s ASB Open) the first player from Canada to secure a Grand Slam win. Bangalore based 37-year-old Bopanna, turned professional in 2003, and has spent close to two decades on the tennis circuit carving out a solid career where he has reached a career high ranking of three in doubles a few years ago.

Coincidentally, Bopanna beat another Indian Grand Slam winner Sania Mirza in the quarter finals (she partnered Croatian Ivan Dodig).

The first Indian to taste victory at the French Open was Ramesh Krishnan, when he won the boy’s title in 1979.

Other Greats

Spaniard Rafael Nadal won a record 10th French Open when he beat Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the finals. Nadal’s 15th Grand Slam win puts him just three behind Roger Federer world record of 18 Slams.

He also lost just 35 games in total at Paris this year and only six in the final, recording his most comprehensive victory since losing only four games in the 2008 final to Federer.

Former World No 1 and 2016 French Open winner Novak Djokovic had another disappointing Slam in losing to Dominic Thiem in straight sets in the quarter finals. This was the Serb’s first partnership with new coach Andre Agassi.

Speculation is rife that he might skip the forthcoming Wimbledon to stay away from the game for some time, to hopefully regain form.

Jelena Ostapenko beat third seed Simona Halep to win the ladies singles title.

She became the first player from Latvia to win a Grand Slam. The unseeded 20-year- old played an attack game, and used it to good effect to beat her fancied opponent after being a set and 3-0 down in the second.

Women’s game has been crying for newer stars and rivalries to emerge – hopefully Halep and Ostapenko can fill the void.


Photo Caption:

Michael Venus

(Picture Courtesy: Radio New Zealand)

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