South African doubles ace, Raven Klaasen captured the ATP Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships doubles title on Sunday with new Brazilian partner Marcelo Melo.
The third seeds, competing for the first time together, defeated Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6 (5) 3-6 10-7 in one hour and 34 minutes at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo. It denied Cabal and Farah the chance to move to within 20 points of No9-placed Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the Emirates ATP Race To London for qualification to next month’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Klaasen and Melo earned $90,460 in prize money and 500 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings points. They also came through a Match tie-break win against Treat Huey and Henri Kontinen in the quarter-finals. Klaasen is now 8-6 lifetime in ATP World Tour finals, while Melo is 16-18 overall.
Victory sees Klaasen moving up five spots to 19th in the ATP doubles rankings. His best ranking to date was 18th in November last year. He’s now banked prize money of just over $253,000 this year.
In Sunday’a final both teams took time to settle down, with breaks of serve in the second and third games. Farah struck an unreturned serve to Klaasen at 4-5 on a sudden death deuce that was also a set point. Melo helped to take control of the tie-break with a fine backhand return at 5/5, which helped seal the 51-minute opener.
The Colombians regrouped to take a 3-0 lead in the second set, courtesy of a Farah forehand winner down the middle in the second game. Klaasen saved a set point with an unreturned serve at 2-5, sudden death deuce, but Cabal closed out the next game for a Match tie-break decider.
Klaasen and Melo opened up a 4-2 advantage in the match tie-break, but got pinned back to 5-5. Two points against the server helped them regain control en route to victory.
Cabal and Farah were contesting their fifth ATP World Tour final of the year (2-3). The duo head to Shanghai sharing $40,810 and 300 points. Cabal is now 4-11 in finals, with Farah dropping to 4-9.
‘It was definitely a fun week in Tokyo. This was our first tournament together and it feels great to lift the trophy! It was a very close match today and I’m happy we pulled through. The crowd was awesome and made it a lot of fun to be out there. Very happy with the performance this week,’ said Klaasen.
Klaasen and Melo will this week team up again at the ATP Shanghai Masters.
Picture of Melo and Klaasen, right, courtesy of Getty Images
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