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Saturday, January 16, 2010


Tecau and Daniell take Auckland title




His first ATP Tour title is unlikely to change Kiwi Marcus Daniell much, at least outwardly, in the near future.

He'll still be flying cattle class, sleeping on hotel room floors ... maybe he'll take a second serving of dinner to keep the body well fuelled.

But inwardly, his doubles victory with Romanian Horia Tecau at the Heineken Open can't help but boost his professional tennis prospects.

"This is completely unexpected ... amazing," gushed Daniell, who actually hails from the Wairarapa. "The biggest benefit will be the belief that I can play with these guys at this level.

"Where I'm ranked, I know I have the potential to be much better. Winning four matches at this level gives me a huge amount of confidence I can do it in singles as well."

The scratch combination, drawn together at the last minute as wild cards were being handed out, took 1h 21m to dispatch Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares 7-5 6-4 in the Panasonic Doubles final.

The result brings the pair $US19,500 to split them and 250 ATP ranking points each, which will boost Daniell about 450 spots to about 218th.

Tecau (24), whose ranking will jump to about 38th, was not certainly expecting his first career title when teamed with the rookie at the start of the week.

"My first thought, I was just happy to play in the tournament and have a chance," he admitted. "When the draw came out and we were playing the other wild cards, I thought it was good to have a weaker first round.

"But Marcus has a very good game. I was never thinking we were going to win the title, but I was positive we could play well and be a tough team to beat."

Their collective self belief really took off after dismissing third-seeded Spaniards Tommy Robredo and Marcel Granollers in the quarterfinals.

"They were very tough opponents," observed Tecau. "We had a little bit of luck to win that match from, but it gave us a lot of confidence that we could play well against Brunstrom and Rojer in the semifinal."

In the final, Daniell and Tecau were rock solid throughout, never allowing their opponents to threaten service while forcing several chances of their own.

They held four break points in the third game of the match and three more at 5-5, both on Soares' serve, which they took advantage of for the crucial breakthrough of the first set.

Daniell's service had looked shaky at times throughout the week and he fell 0-30 behind as he served for the set. But he and Tecau rallied to close it out.

"We came out today in a really good frame of mind and wanted to take it to them early," reflected Daniell. "In the last coup of matches, we had a really weak first set, so we brought our 'A' game today."

Then, at 2-2 in the second set, the pair pressured into Melo's serve and the Brazilian double faulted twice, smashing his racquet into the court in frustration as he offered the title to the "home" team.

"When we broke off those two double faults, we overcame them mentally," said Daniell.

The pair's paths will now diverge as Tecau heads to the Australian Open, where he will team with Argentine Lucas Arnold, while Daniell returns to the Futures circuit to improve his singles ranking of 767.

The Kiwi's low doubles ranking somewhat precludes them teaming up again on the ATP Tour this year, but they have not dismissed the prospect of returning next year to defend their Heineken Open title together.

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