South African Raven Klaasen and American Eric Butorac claimed their first ATP World Tour title as a team, defeating Pablo Cuevas and Horacio Zeballos 6-2, 6-4 in 56 minutes to win the ATP Malaysian Open, in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
The duo won 81 per cent of first serve points and converted four of seven break points to seal victory in their first tournament as a team.
“it was a great match for us today and awesome week in general” said Klaasen. “I felt comfortable out there today and mainly due to the good start we had. It’s very tough to relax with this scoring format but we were playing from the front on that helped. So all in all VERY happy with the performance today.”
“From the first practice, until the final match, I thought we had a really great week together, put some good tennis on court, and that was what happened,” said Butorac.
“We knew the first match was probably going to be the biggest test because we hadn’t played together before, and we kind of had to figure a few things out. I feel like we got stronger every match, so we really enjoyed it out there, and the crowd today really showed up and made it fun out there for us,” said Klaasen.
The 32-year-old Butorac won his first title of the season, and first since Sao Paulo in February 2012. The left-hander improved his win-loss record in finals to 14-8, and has now won at least one title in every season since 2007. He said past success in Kuala Lumpur helped his title run this year.
The American thinks he works well with Klaasen, due to their affinity for attacking at the net. “I think we have different skills, but play a similar style of doubles. If you saw in the finals, the other guys wanted to sit back and hit shots really hard from the baseline, but we wanted to play a lot at the net. We were really able to craft the points and play them in our favour, so I think hopefully moving forward that we can use those tactical and court smarts to our advantage.”
The 30-year-old Klaasen improved his win-loss record in finals to 3-1, and consolidated a successful fortnight. Last week, he captured his second title of the season in Metz (w/Brunstrom).
Klaasen said that the win confirmed his good form of late. “It was good to capitalize on back to back ATP World Tour 250 wins. It gives me lots of confidence for next season” said Klaasen.
This is the third win of the season for Klaasen - Nice and Metz (w/Brunstrom).
Klaasen as of Monday should be in the world’s top 45. “There is no better feeling than watching your ranking move in the right direction. I’m looking forward to Monday and seeing some progress on my ranking. It will definitely help me in getting closer to playing in some big events.”
The American/South African team are planning on building on their partnership. “We’ve decided that we’re going to play together until the end of the season, and then we’ll start next year together too, so hopefully we can build on this momentum and form going into next season,” said Klaasen.