- Raven Klaasen and his new doubles partner, Oliver Marach, have found the going tough on the ATP Tour in 2020.
- The South African-Austrian pair boasts only one win in their last five tournaments.
- They tackle German brothers Alexander and Mischa Zverev at the Cologne ATP event on Tuesday.
Raven Klaasen, labelled "Mr Consistency" after remaining among the world's top 20 doubles players for much of the past six years, and his new doubles partner, Austrian Oliver Marach, have unexpectedly become consistent losers - having won only one game in their last five tournaments.
And most deflating for the South African-Austrian duo has been the elimination as seeds in the opening round of both the US and French Open Grand Slam events among the four tournament games they have lost in the first round.
Ironically, the new partnership between Klaasen and Marach got off to a promising and impressive launch at the start of the year, with final appearances in both the Dubai and Rotterdam ATP tournaments.
But it's been a different story for Klaasen and Marach following the resumption of tournament tennis after the lengthy break that was caused by the grim coronavirus pandemic.
And a long-time close business associate of Klaasen has admitted the partnership that was launched in a mood of wine and roses between two world-class performers is hanging in the balance going into this week's Cologne Open - the first of two back-to-back ATP tournaments in the scenic German city.
They are the third seeds in Cologne and face German brothers Alexander and Mischa Zverev in their first match on Tuesday.
"I mean there is no apparent good reason why Raven and Oliver should not stop the rot in the coming two tournaments," said the official who has kept a close check on the pair's progress. "But it will be something to ponder over if the alarming decline in results continues. Cologne hopefully will prove the turning point."
Meanwhile, nothing has emerged to explain the poor results of the pairing between Marach, who at one point scaled a doubles ranking of No 2 in the world, and Klassen, who climbed to seventh place at one point as one of the world's top 10 players for a number of years.
Marach is also a Grand Slam winner, having won the Australian Open men's doubles title, while Klaasen has featured in the Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles finals, as well as reaching two finals in the year-end ATP Tour Finals.
Also the South African-Austrian pair seemed ideally suited to each other's style, with Klaasen a busy, all-court exponent who thrives at the net and Marach specialising as a clinical and precise baseliner.
It has been suggested, however, that with Marach having turned 40 and Klaasen now 38, a little of the glitter has been eliminated from their respective make-up.
Cologne, perhaps, will provide the answer!