Australian Open

Klaasen's early exit a Davis Cup blessing for SA?

2017-01-24 14:20
Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Australian Open clangers have not been limited to the singles and the shock early elimination of holders Novak Djokovic and Angelique Kerber, as well as world number one and top-seeded Andy "Sir Andy" Murray.

In the men's doubles, South Africa's "lone ranger" representative in the record $ 50m Grand Slam event at Melbourne Park, Raven Klaasen, who was named the sixth seed in partnership with the United States' Rajeev Ram, bowed out in only the second round against the scratch combination of Marcus Daniell and Marcelo Demoliner.

The unfancied New Zealand-Brazilian duo beat Klaasen and Ram 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), but were speedily bundled out themselves in the next round.

Winning a Grand Slam men's title in his blossoming doubles career since taking the calculated decision to cut out playing in singles events six years ago, has been the proclaimed ambition of the 34-year-old Klaasen.

And, in this context, the amiable Capetonian has already reached the doubles final in the Australian Open and the semi-finals at Wimbledon, as well as making it to the Australian Open quarter-finals last year.

So the early elimination at this time around is surely something of a bitter pill for the world's 11th-ranked doubles player to swallow - although it contains a grain of comfort in that it will enable Klaasen to limit his Australian Open participation to the less gruelling and less important mixed doubles and return to South Africa in good shape to join in the preparation for the Euro-Africa Group Two Davis Cup tie that commences at the Irene Country Club on the outskirts of Pretoria on February 3.

This will, no doubt, be welcomed by South Africa Davis Cup captain, Marcos Ondruska, particularly as the doubles could prove a decisive factor in the five-match tie against Estonia.

As for the singles, Ondruska has something of a poser on his hands in deciding whether to include either Nikala Scholtz or Tucker Vorster in his final four-man squad as number two to the promising, up-and-coming Lloyd  Harris.

Scholtz's current world ranking has slipped from a career-best 320nd to 522nd and Vorster, who has been ranked as high as 278th, is currently down to 644th.

So it will be good to have Klaasen around as the senior doubles partner to Ruan Roelofse -  and in good condition too!

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