ATP Tour

Klaasen ‘SA tennis player of year’

Raven Klaasen (Picture: ATP World Tour)
Raven Klaasen (Picture: ATP World Tour)

Cape Town - He may have missed by a whisker in becoming the first South African to win the ATP World Doubles Finals title since Ellis Ferreira 15 years ago, but durable, dedicated 34 year-old Raven Klaasen has undoubtedly emerged as the country's "2016 tennis player of the year."

Klaasen will finish the year ranked as the 12th doubles player in the world after he and his American partner, Rajeev Ram, were barely beaten 2-6, 6-1, 10-8 by the in-form combination of Henri Kontinen and John Peers in the ATP World Finals in London on Sunday.

The match was decided in accordance with the innovative tournament rules in a 10-point tie-breaker after the opening two sets had been decided rather comfortably in turn by each of the two couples.

It was entirely different in the deciding tie-breaker with the score going to 8-8 without a single break and one inspired return of service at this point deciding the outcome in favour of the Australian-Finnish combination.

Noticeably aggrieved over the loss by such a narrow margin of what would have been the biggest title of his career, Klaasen can look back on the year as one of conspicuous success, with two ATP titles and three more finals secured in partnership with Ram.

What is more, the couple are now ranked sixth in the world and capable of holding their own with anyone in a tightly-contested, if unpredictable ATP world doubles segment.

With top South African singles player Kevin Anderson experiencing a year of varying trials and tribulations, with his ranking descending from 12th to 67th in the process, it was encouraging that the country has belatedly come up with another potential  world-class singles player in  almost a decade in 19 year-old Lloyd Harris.

At a career-best 267th world ranking, the Cape Town-based Harris is already South Africa's No 2 singles player after winning a handful of third-tier ITF Futures tournaments.

But it’s now surely time for Harris to take the next revealing step forward in 2017 by competing in second-tier ATP Challenger events if he is ultimately to make his mark in the top bracket - something that might require more tangible and direct support from the Tennis South Africa administration and the Department of Sport as well for that matter.

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