New Zealand’s Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell have created history by winning their nations first Olympic Tennis medal with a 7-6 6-2 win over American’s Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren in the bronze medal match.
The last time a New Zealand player won a medal in tennis at an Olympic Games was at Stockholm 1912 when Anthony Wilding won bronze but he was competing for Australasia – New Zealand and Australia competed together until the 1920 Olympic Games.
Winning a bronze medal was a moment of shock, disbelief and pure joy for Daniell and Venus, who don’t play together regularly on the tour circuit.
After celebrating on court, tears begun to flow for Daniell. Although they weren’t his first tears of the Olympic Games he noted in the press conference, after they won the quarter-final and were later in the chance for a medal it’s “got to him”.
“It just means so much. It means more when you have the Silver Fern on your chest and you’re performing for your country,” he said. “You feel the group energy of New Zealand and the spirit of New Zealand when you’re in the Athletes’ Village and see these photos from back home of everyone who’s getting behind the team.”
The 31-year-old also paid tribute to Wilding in the press conference.
“To follow in his footsteps, he was New Zealand’s best tennis players, I think he won a couple of Wimbledon’s, is surreal and I mean it hasn’t sunk in yet,” Daniell said.
“I’m in a bit of disbelief and I think this will take some weeks to process but couldn’t be happier.”
“We’re a small country but love our sports. Both of us grew up watching the Olympics and to see all the great athletes before us come here and win medals, firstly just to be here and be part of the team is very special but to win a medal on top of that is unbelievable and I’m just super happy and proud of us,” Venus added.
After a tough straight sets loss in the semi-final to Croatia’s Marin Cilic and Ivan Dodig yesterday, the Kiwi duo bounced back to win a tough opening set against the Americans.
Venus and Marcus only continued where they left off to dominate the second set before celebrating their historic moment at Ariake Tennis Park waving New Zealand flag proudly.
The pair have played a little bit together in Davis Cups but it’s their knowledge of each other over those years as well as opening up to each other that Venus believes helped them win bronze.
“We also shared a room here so if you really want to get to know someone, be put in two single beds next to each other in the extreme heat. I’d say there was definitely some bonding going on there,” Daniell laughed.
The win marks a new piece of history for tennis in New Zealand, where the sport of rugby union dominates.
“I think it’s just a different level, New Zealand is just so Olympics focussed – it’s such a huge deal so to show Kiwi tennis players can win medals, I really hope that jump starts the interest and…
Read More: Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell create history for New Zealand 2021-07-30 08:11:15