Klassens, Ram cause ma­jor up­set

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

CAPE TOWN — South Africa’s Raven Klaasen and Amer­i­can Ra­jeev Ram caused an up­set yes­ter­day at the ATP World Tour Fi­nals when they de­feated Pier­reHugues Her­bert and Ni­co­las Mahut both of France, who are vy­ing to be­come the year-end No. 1 pair in the ATP Dou­bles Team Rank­ings.

Klaasen and Ram won 7-5, 6-4 in 83 min­utes in a Group Flem­ing/McEn­roe round-robin en­counter, which avenged their loss to Her­bert and Mahut in this year’s fi­nal of the Mi­ami Open.

Had Her­bert and Mahut won the match, then Mahut would have be­come the first French­man in the 40-year his­tory of the ATP Dou­bles Rank­ings to fin­ish as the year-end in­di­vid­ual No 1 Her­bert and Mahut are now just 375 points ahead of Jamie Mur­ray and Bruno Soares in the fight to as the No 1 team for 2016. A to­tal of 1 500 points is up for grabs at the sea­son fi­nale this week.

Klaasen and Ram set­tled quickly and al­most broke Her­bert’s serve on a de­cid­ing deuce point in the first game. With good de­fence at the net, Klaasen and Ram kept the pres­sure on their op­po­nents and reaped a break of Mahut’s serve to 30 for a 4-2 lead. Ram held three set point chances on serve, at 5-4, 40/15 — in­clud­ing the de­cid­ing deuce point — but tremen­dous re­turns and re­ac­tions, par­tic­u­larly from Mahut, se­cured three straight points and the break. Klaasen and Ram im­me­di­ately re­grouped and on a sec­ond serve, on a de­cid­ing deuce point, Klaasen fired a back­hand win­ner down the line past Her­bert for a 6-5 ad­van­tage. Min­utes later, Klaasen calmly served out the 44-minute opener.

In the sec­ond set, Her­bert and Mahut upped the ante and played dis­ci­plined ten­nis on re­turn of serve. At 1-2, Klaasen faced two break points, but wrig­gled out of the game after Ram framed a fore­hand vol­ley win­ner on the de­cid­ing deuce point. Mahut screamed in an­guish, but worse was to come. In the next game, quick re­ac­tions at the net by Ram forced the break of Her­bert’s serve for a 3-2 lead. Klaasen and Ram re­mained in con­trol, not over­play­ing against their higher-ranked op­po­nents, and kept their nerve to record their first win at the sea­son fi­nale.

Klaasen, 34, and 32-year-old Ram are now 32-20 on the sea­son, which in­cludes two ATP World Tour ti­tles at the Gerry We­ber Open in Halle (d. Kubot/Peya) and the Chengdu Open (d. Car­reno Busta/Fyrsten­berg). Her­bert and Mahut, chas­ing their sixth ti­tle of the year, dropped to 41-11 mark in 2016.

Klaasen said that he that he and Ram played well at the im­por­tant mo­ments and ex­e­cuted the game plan ac­cord­ingly. “It was a big much needed win against the top seeds and gets our cam­paign off to a pos­i­tive start. Step­ping out onto the O2 Arena was in it­self a chal­lenge and wow what a fab­u­lous ex­pe­ri­ence it was, be­ing able to avenge our de­feat in Mi­ami against the French­men in such an at­mos­phere.”

Mean­while, the new men’s world top 40 rank­ings re­mained un­changed while wait­ing for the ATP World Tour Fi­nals this week which will de­ter­mine whether Andy Mur­ray or No­vak Djokovic are num­ber one at the end of the year.

Mur­ray over­took his Ser­bian ri­val last week and has a 405 point lead. He will re­main num­ber one if he can go fur­ther than Djokovic in the $7.5 mil­lion Lon­don event.— Sport24.

Raven Klaasen

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