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Kiwis eliminated from Classic first round

AAP logoAAP 9/01/2017 Angelo Risso

Both Kiwis taking part in the men's ASB Classic singles event have exited in the first round after pushing their opponents to the wire.

Finn Tearney and doubles expert Michael Venus both hit centre court on Monday, performing admirably but going down to Robin Haase and Feliciano Lopez respectively.

Ranked 447th in the world, the 26-year-old Tearney twice wasted a 3-0 set lead against Dutch veteran Haase to go down 6-4 7-5 in the early afternoon.

Venus, 32nd in the world in doubles, subsequently went up a set against Lopez but then gave the sixth seed two key avenues back into the match, falling 6-3 4-6 3-6.

The match ultimately went the world No.28's way as Venus struggled in the second and third sets on return of service.

Both Venus and Tearney will take heart from their displays, showing an on-court aggressiveness and match intelligence beyond their singles rankings.

Only one Kiwi, Venus himself, has won a Classic men's singles match since 2003.

"In the big moments I missed a few and he also played some good points," Tearney said.

"I'm really trying to press forward and put pressure on guys. It doesn't work all the time but that's the way I see myself going forward."

Venus, who rarely plays singles outside of the Classic, will likely join Tearney as a Kiwi representative in next month's Davis Cup tie in India.

If so, he'll again play singles, but may not otherwise do so for 12 months.

"I'd love to play a lot more, but I don't know," the 29-year old said.

"It's a little sad I guess because I'd love to be out there playing, but it's how things have played out with doubles."

Elsewhere, seventh-seeded American Steve Johnson qualified for the second-round with a straightforward 6-4 6-3 win over Stephane Robert.

The 27-year-old, ranked 33rd in the world, proved too powerful for his French opponent, who struggled with his serve and made six double faults.

Czech 2015 champion Jiri Vesely outclassed Argentinian Horacio Zeballos 6-4 6-3 while Tunisian Malek Jaziri defeated another Argentinian in Diego Schwartzman.

In the final match of the day, wildcard Dustin Brown pulled out every trick in his arsenal on the way to a 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4 win over American qualifier Michael Mmoh.

Showing his penchant for Youtube-ready hot shots, Brown slammed, sliced and lobbed his way to an eventual victory but frustrated with too many unforced errors.

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