Marcus Daniell … confidence high going into the Tokyo Olympics that starts on Friday. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES
Wairarapa tennis star Marcus Daniell said he and Michael Venus have learnt from their Rio heartbreak and can medal in the men’s doubles at the Tokyo Olympics.
Daniell and Venus entered the 2016 Olympics confident of success, only to fall in a heart-breaking first-round loss to seventh seeds and eventual silver medallists Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil from Canada.
“The pleasure of simply being able to call myself an Olympian definitely had me wide-eyed in Rio, and it’s not easy to beat the best in the world when you’re just happy to be there,” Daniell said.
“This may have been the 0.1 per cent difference between winning and losing in the third set tie-breaker against a seeded team, but this time around we’re there to medal.”
Daniell, 31, and Venus, 33, have a long history of playing together, having combined in the doubles for New Zealand in the Davis Cup on several occasions.
“We know each other well and have played good matches in the past. That chemistry on court is going to help.
“Mike and I have been frothing to have another shot and do better, and I truly believe we have the level as a team to get on the podium.
“Knowing that and producing it day after day are two different things, but we’ll give it absolutely everything and leave our hearts on the court every day.”
Daniell, ranked 48 in world doubles, is in the unusual position of being clear of injury, and said his fitness is surprisingly good, much better than in Rio.
“I don’t have any major niggles, which is a situation that has been disappointingly rare in my career, and I’m going to try to capitalise on it as much as I can.”
Daniell, though, is conscious of the unique challenges the covid-impacted Olympics will bring.
“Tokyo is going to be a markedly different experience to Rio, but we’re used to bubbles and having no crowds, having played the majority of the last year under those circumstances.
“It’s a huge shame that the Olympics won’t feel so much like the Olympics, but at this point I think Japan is all about potential damage control which is entirely understandable.”
Daniell was due to fly to Tokyo on Monday and will have a week to acclimatise, along with Tennis NZ high performance director Christophe Lambert. Venus is expected to turn up in the
next few days.
The 20th ranked Venus will arrive in good form, having won the men’s doubles at the Hamburg European Open with German partner, Tim Putz.
Daniell is uncertain when the draw will be made but thinks Venus and he have a good chance of being seeded.