Cape Town - It was so very close for Raven Klaasen and Rajeev Ram in London but on the day their opponents had the edge.
Henri Kontinen and John Peers finished their debut season with the perfect ending on Sunday, winning the ATP World Tour Finals doubles title during their team debut, beating fellow first-timers Klaasen and Ram 2-6, 6-1, 10-8 at The O2 arena.
Kontinen, of Finland, and Peers, of Australia, finish the season on a 10-match win-streak, dating back to their first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Paris Masters earlier this month.
They also finish 2016 with five ATP World Tour titles, including crowns in Brisbane, Munich and Hamburg.
Seventh seeds Klaasen and Ram were going for their biggest team title, and the South African and American started strong. They broke twice in the first set and erased all three break points faced to breeze through the 30-minute opener.
Before Sunday, Kontinen and Peers had been broken only twice all tournament, having gone 41/43 on serve during their 4-0 match start. But they rebounded in the second set, breaking Ram to love to lead 2-0. They broke again when Klaasen guided a forehand volley wide and would soon even the match.
Klaasen and Ram regrouped in time for the match tie-break, and the teams were tied at 8/8 when Klaasen stepped to the line for a second serve. Kontinen took advantage of the softer offering, though, slapping a backhand that Ram couldn't handle at the net. On the next point, Peers struck a service winner down the T for their biggest title to date.
Jeff Coetzee, touring coach of Klaasen/Ram said that his charges always knew the final was going to be a tough challenge.
“Obviously there is disappointment in the camp especially with the final being so close. After yesterday’s semi-final performance against new world number 1 pair Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares, the momentum was with Raven and Rajeev and I felt that they would have a far better shot at the win today in the final than they had against Kontinen/Peers in the group round-robin.”
Coetzee said that the match was very close and basically was decided on one or two points in the deciding match tie-breaker. “Raven and Rajeev were holding Kontinen/Peers in the breaker but at 8/8 Raven played a safer serve and Kontinen aggressively took advantage with his favourite backhand up the line overpowering Rajeev.”
Coetzee ended by saying that he was extremely proud of Klaasen and Ram and their performance not only in the ATP Finals but throughout the season.
“Raven and Rajeev have had a great consistent season ending the year seventh on the world team rankings beating every other top team other than Kontinen/Peers throughout the year.”
Kontinen and Peers will receive 1 500 ATP doubles rankings points and split $455 000 in prize money. Klaasen and Ram will receive 800 ATP doubles rankings points and split $245 000.