ATP Tour

Klaasen, Paes win first title

2015-01-17 21:13
Raven Klaasen (AFP)

Johannesburg - South African Davis Cup stalwart Raven Klaasen and veteran Indian icon Leander Paes could not have made a better start to their new partnership, snapping up their first title in the second tournament together in the Auckland ATP Open on Saturday.

The comprehensive 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 win over Great Britain's Dominic Inglot and Romanian Florin Mergea came in the wake of the pair's 6-4, 7-6(7/4) defeat against Jonathan Marray and Yen-Hsun Lu in the final of the Chennai Open last week.

"Winning a tournament and reaching the final in the second of our two initial events together is something in the realms of a fairytale," said Klaasen.

"I've always had the highest hopes that my pairing with Leander would become a stimulating success for me.

"But I never anticipated we could have got off to such a great start, considering that we had never played together before and doubles success in tennis has a great deal to do with knowing the way your partner plays."

While Klaasen and Paes battled to reach the Auckland final with three wins that were achieved via tight tiebreakers, the South African-Indian combination took control of the game against Inglot and Mergea after romping through the opening set tiebreaker by seven points to one.

"Leander and I learnt a lot about each other in the Chennai tournament and we put it into good effect in Auckland," said Klaasen.

"I was more than happy with our overall performance."

Paes echoed the sentiment.

"We performed as well as could have been expected - and I love playing with Raven. We both play the game with great enthusiasm and energy and are helping each other on and off the court."

The 20th world-ranked Klaasen raised eyebrows with the surprise announcement last month that he was terminating a successful partnership with the United States' Eric Butorac, with whom he reached the Australian Open final.

An eight-time grand slam doubles winner, Paes has been hampered by injuries during the past two years and his reputation as one of the world's leading doubles players has suffered as a consequence.

But Klaasen said he had made the surprise decision to terminate the partnership with Butorac because he believed there was a better chance of achieving his ambition to become a grand slam winner with Paes, who is now playing in his 25th year on the international tennis circuit.

And next week at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Klaasen will have the opportunity of going one better than last year in a quest for an elusive, first grand slam title, with Paes having won the title with Radek Stepanek three years ago.

Meanwhile, in the singles draws for the Australian Open, Kevin Anderson and Chani Scheepers have avoided frontline players in their opening matches.

The 14th-seeded Anderson, who reached the fourth round in last year's tournament, begins this time around against 58th-ranked Argentinean Diego Schwartzman, while Scheepers will be pitted against Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia.

Read more on:    atp tour  |  raven klaasen  |  tennis

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