Cape Town - The much-publicised and in many ways shock betrothal
between top South African doubles player
Raven Klaasen and legendary eight-time grand slam winner Leander Paes was last
month declared "a temporary separation" for the claycourt segment of
the international tennis season.
Now, however, the separation has turned into a deflating
"divorce" before the forthcoming Wimbledon grasscourt grand slam
event - and inclusive of all other tournaments this year.
This was confirmed on Monday by Klaasen's coach and
manager, Stefan de Kock, who also revealed that the South African doubles
specialist would now pair up with American Rajeev Ram, starting with the
present Netherlands ATP Tour tournament.
De Kock said the final break with Paes, who has now teamed up with the
similarly acclaimed Daniel Nestor, was settled amicably.
But after the 32-year-old Klaasen enjoyed the best year
of his tennis career in 2014 in partnership with Eric Butorac, reaching the
final of the Australian Open and climbing to a career-best world doubles
ranking of 18th, the break-up with Paes has all the ingredients of a publicised wedding
speedily going wrong.
A dream launch to
the South African's partnership with Paes at the start of the year
resulted in Klaasen and India's 41 year-old icon winning the Heineken Open ATP
doubles title in Auckland, New Zealand and ending runners-up in the Chennai
Open and the Delray Beach Open. But a systematic downward slide in results then
gripped the pair.
Unlike his pairing with Butorac in 2014, Klaasen and Paes were this year bundled out of the
Australian Open in the second round.
Then, after second round defeats against Italy's Simone
Bolelli and Fabio Fognini at both the Indian Wells and Miami Masters
tournaments, the Indo-South African pairing split before the
Monte Carlo Masters event for what was supposedly only the claycourt tournament circuit leading up
to and including the recently concluded French Open.
partnership in claycourt tournaments with the Netherlands' Robin Haase, the Czech Republic's Lukas Rosol and finally Chinese Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu in
the French Open met with little success.
De Kock added that Klaasen and Paes remained "good
friends", but the intention right now was to cement a permanent
partnership with the 41st ATP-doubles ranked Ram.
Klaasen's world doubles ranking, meantime, has slipped to
28th from 18th towards the end of last year.
Commenting on the
constant change of partners, South African Davis Cup captain Earl Grainger said
it was not his "business" whom Klaasen plays with on the ATP circuit.
"He remains our top doubles player," added
Grainger, "and a key member of the squad that will take on Ireland in July
in the critical tie to avoid relegation from the Euro-Africa Group Two segment
of the Davis Cup."
As for the ATP circuit, the likeable Klaasen might now be
having second thoughts about parting ways with Butorac.