South African doubles tennis ace Raven Klaasen had previously won two Halle titles with American Rajeev Ram
Second seeds Klaasen and Michael Venus prevented a three-peat on Sunday in Halle, defeating two-time defending champions Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 4-6, 6-3, 10-4 to win the NOVENTI OPEN.
“I’m so happy right now. This is my third title in Halle. This place has proven very successful for me,” Klaasen said. “This feeling is hard to replicate in the world, so I’ll enjoy this for sure.”
Klaasen and Venus, who reached the Nitto ATP Finals in their first year as a team last season, lift their second ATP Tour trophy as a pair, having also triumphed in Marseille last year. The South African-Kiwi duo had lost three of their four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Kubot and Melo, but they battled to a one-hour, 26-minute victory on the German grass.
Klaasen and Venus arrived in Halle with a successful grass-court resume, having advanced to last year’s Wimbledon final. Klaasen also partnered Rajeev Ram to back-to-back triumphs in Halle in 2015-16. The champions showed good form throughout the ATP 500 tournament, reaching the final without dropping a set before rallying past the top seeds.
They lost just four first-service points in the match, and they saved five of the six break points they faced. Importantly, they saved two break points in the second set en route to forcing a Match Tie-break.
“Extremely tough match there. We came through some tough spots in the second set,” Venus said. “We’ve lost a couple finals, so it’s good to get over that little hump. To win here, where Raven’s done well before, it’s a great feeling.”
Kubot and Melo brought a 42-17 record in Match Tie-breaks into the final. But they were able to win just two of their seven service points in the Match Tie-break with the trophy on the line.
“We came up with some very good serves when we needed them. They got out of the gate so fast. Kubi was hitting the ball 100 miles per hour. Fortunately we’ve been there before and we stayed calm,” Klaasen said. “We knew that in order to turn things around, we were going to have to put in a big mental effort and that proved the difference today.
“When it gets to those Match Tie-breaks, if you get off to a good start there’s a good chance you can pull those through. Overall just happy that we had a good game plan and we could execute.”
For their efforts, Klaasen and Venus claim 500 ATP Doubles Ranking points and a share of €135,090. It is Klaasen’s 15th tour-level doubles title and Venus’ ninth trophy.
Kubot and Melo defeated Alexander Zverev and Mischa Zverev in the Halle final in each of the past two years, but they fell just short of winning their third consecutive trophy at this event. They both earn 300 points and a split of €66,130.