Men's doubles win NZ's first ever Olympic tennis medal

It's a fantastic four for New Zealand on what has become a historic day in the nation's sporting history.

Tennis doubles pair Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell have won a bronze medal, New Zealand's fourth of the day, in one of the great underdog stories of the Tokyo Olympics so far.

Up against American duo Austin Krajicek and Tennys Sandgren, the Kiwis were locked in a tight battle from the opening serve. The first set went to a tiebreak and it was there the New Zealanders stepped up, breaking serve and winning 7-6 (7-3).

They ramped up the pressure early in the second, breaking serve and taking a three-game-to-love lead. The Americans fought back but the Kiwis defended their serve, going 4-1 up and two games away from a momentous victory. 

Michael Venus celebrates winning a point during the men's doubles bronze medal match at Tokyo 2020. Source: Associated Press

While the Americans held serve, the Kiwis remained composed and swept the final game to win in straight sets 7-6 (7-3), 6-2.

They join the men's and women's rowing eights and single sculler Emma Twigg as Kiwis to stand on the podium today.

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Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell trained into the evening following their Olympic semi-final loss, and it paid off as they won the bronze medal today. Source: 1 NEWS

It is New Zealand's first tennis medal in Olympic history. New Zealander Anthony Wilding won a bronze medal as part of a combined Australasian team in 1912.

The bronze marks the conclusion of an unbelievable run by Venus and Daniell.

Michael Venus and Marcus Daniell erupt into celebration after winning the bronze medal game at Tokyo 2020. Source: Associated Press

While they were given some good fortune early in the tournament by getting a walkover due to their opponents testing positive for Covid-19, they took full advantage of the opportunity, upsetting the third-seeded Colombians to book a place in the semi-finals.

Croatian duo Marin Cilic and Igor Domig proved too strong in the semi-final, but the Kiwis should be credited for being able to bounce back in such a short amount of time and win the bronze medal match.

It was an achievement they were determined to accomplish. TVNZ Olympics reporter Chris Chang said their coach told him the pair had been "very disappointed" with their semi-final loss and immediately had a training session that went well into the evening.

Venus and Daniell have been roommates in the Olympic village, and while their personalities are polar opposites, their bond has grown, as has their play on the court.

Prior to Tokyo, doubles pair Bruce Derlin and Kelly Evernden were the only New Zealanders to ever advance past the first round, doing so at Seoul 1988.

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