Courtship: How Peers Won Over New Doubles Partner Venus
No-one likes rejection. Whether it be asking a girl on a date or making advances on a new doubles partner, John Peers suffers the same rejection anxiety as the rest of us when he weighs the risk-reward equation. “I hate [the process],” he says.
Approaching a new doubles partner – especially one in a committed relationship – is inherently awkward. But believing that he was destined for success with World No. 11 Michael Venus, Peers initiated a WhatsApp thread with the New Zealander that has now paired the 30-somethings for the 2020 season.
“I’ve only [approached a new partner] a few times as I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of long-term partners,” said Peers, who parted ways with Henri Kontinen at the end of last season. “It's pretty much like a relationship: You throw a few messages out, hope for the best. Mike said yes, so that was good.
“It’s never easy looking, not knowing what they are going to say. He hung me out there for a few days to make we wait. We just wanted to make sure it would be good for both of us and fingers crossed it will be.”
While 20-time titlist Peers and Kontinen mutually agreed that it was in both their interests to seek success elsewhere, the decision was less clear-cut for Venus, who ended 2019 by reaching the Nitto ATP Finals title match with South African partner Raven Klaasen.
“The difficulty for me was that I’d had two good seasons with Raven, so when you’re doing well it’s never easy to go somewhere else," Venus told ATPTour.com. "But things just seemed to align with John, including the ability to practise year-round together in London. Not many teams get that chance. We felt the more time we could spend together the more it would help. It was an opportunity I really liked the sound of.”
Venus says that he likes what his new partner brings to the table. “He's got a big serve. He's aggressive. Good hands around the net. Moves well. Understands the doubles game very well. I think he does everything pretty well. I'll just try and hang onto him, clean up the little bits I can here and there.”
Although the new teammates are confident they have made the right choice, Peers admits that finding their best form together may happen after the season is in full swing. Earlier this week the team suffered a tight first-round loss in Auckland in their debut outing.
“The more time you spend together in difficult situations on the same side of the net the better things will get. In the tough situations it’s a bit of an unknown what they will do until you’ve spent time together. With time you get to know the finer details of what they want to do at certain moments.”
The seventh seeds will open their Australian Open campaign against Denmark's Frederik Nielsen and Germany's Tim Puetz.