Tokyo, Japan – South African doubles ace, Raven Klaasen captured the ATP Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships doubles title on Sunday with his Brazilian partner Marcelo Melo.
It was a first-time pairing for Klaasen and Melo.
The third seeds defeated Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 7-6(5), 3-6, 10-7 in one hour and 34 minutes at the Ariake Colosseum in Tokyo. It denied Cabal and Farah the chance to move to within 20 points of No. 9-placed Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares in the Emirates ATP Race To London for qualification to next month’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Klaasen and Melo earned $90,460 in prize money and 500 Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings points. They also came through a Match tie-break win against Treat Huey and Henri Kontinen in the quarter-finals. Klaasen is now 8-6 lifetime in ATP World Tour finals, while Melo is 16-18 overall.
Both teams took time to settle down, with breaks of serve in the second and third games. Farah struck an unreturned serve to Klaasen at 4-5 on a sudden death deuce that was also a set point. Melo helped to take control of the tie-break with a fine backhand return at 5/5, which helped seal the 51-minute opener.
The Colombians regrouped to take a 3-0 lead in the second set, courtesy of a Farah forehand winner down the middle in the second game. Klaasen saved a set point with an unreturned serve at 2-5, sudden death deuce, but Cabal closed out the next game for a Match tie-break decider.
Klaasen and Melo opened up a 4/2 advantage in the Match tie-break, but got pinned back to 5/5. Two points against the server helped them regain control en route to victory.
Cabal and Farah were contesting their fifth ATP World Tour final of the year (2-3). The duo head to Shanghai sharing $40,810 and 300 points. Cabal is now 4-11 in finals, with Farah dropping to 4-9.
“It was definitely a fun week in Tokyo. This was our first tournament together and feels great to lift the trophy! It was a very close match today and I’m happy we pulled through. The crowd was awesome and made it a lot of fun to be out there. Very happy with the performance this week.” Said Klaasen.
Klaasen and Melo will this week play together in the ATP Shanghai Masters.