ATP Tour

Best ever year-end finish for SA doubles star Klaasen

Michael Venus and Raven Klaasen (Getty Images)
Michael Venus and Raven Klaasen (Getty Images)

Cape Town - The frustration of Raven Klaasen in falling at the final hurdle and failing to annex a major tennis title continued with his 6-3, 6-4 defeat along with New Zealand partner Michael Venus against the formidable French pairing of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the year-ending ATP Finals in London on Sunday.

But, for all this, 2019 has again been a year of conspicuous success for South Africa's top doubles player, who in the process of winning two further ATP World Tour titles with Venus and 16 overall, improved his own best-ever year-end world ranking from 12th in 2016 to eighth this time around.

The 37 year-old Klaasen, in the process, has now reached two pinnacle Grand Slam finals - along with American Eric Butorac at the Australian Open in 2014 and Venus at Wimbledon last year and two showpiece matches at the ATP Finals, with American Rajeev Ram in 2016 and Venus in his second such achievement, but on all four occasions losing out while ultimate triumph beckoned elusively.   

However, the Klaasen-Venus duo were far from disgraced in London's rousing indoor event after an impressive run of victories, with a single dropped serve in each of the two sets in the final match proving the difference against an imposing pairing who boast the record of being one of only four combinations who have won all four Grand Slam doubles titles.

And the evergreen Klaasen continues to demonstrate probably the best form of his career, with retirement seemingly the last thought on his mind at a time when most players are contemplating bowing out of the international circuit.

He is expected to continue his pivotal role for South Africa in team events at the inaugural ATP World Team Cup, which will launch the 2020 tennis programme in Australia in January, with Kevin Anderson and Lloyd Harris earmarked for the singles.

Meanwhile, in the ATP's final singles rankings for 2019, top South African Anderson has plunged to 91st from sixth place in 2018 after a year tormented by injuries, while the up-and-coming Harris has broken into the top 100 for the first time and occupies 99th place.

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