First-Year Duo Klaasen/Venus Making London Push
Both Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus appeared in the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. Klaasen got in as an alternate with Rajeev Ram, losing in a Match Tie-break to two-time reigning champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers. Venus and teammate Ryan Harrison won all three of their round-robin matches before succumbing in the semi-finals.
But this year, Klaasen and Venus are making a push — together — for the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Among teams that formed in 2018, they are currently the second highest-placed in the ATP Doubles Race To London, sitting in seventh overall.
The veteran team — Klaasen is 35 and Venus is 30 — fell in the opening round in two of their first three tournaments together. But then, they clicked.
In just their fourth tournament as a pair, Klaasen and Venus triumphed, lifting the trophy at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille. They’d also reach the final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch at the Libema Open on grass. But their biggest breakthrough came at Wimbledon, where they advanced to the final before losing in a five-set epic against Mike Bryan and Jack Sock.
"For the first half of the year we'd been solid but we just hadn't gotten over the hump of having that big result. I think we did that here and it showed us and (we) have the belief in the partnership that we can do this consistently,” Venus told the New Zealand Herald at the time. "We showed ourselves we can play with the top guys consistently and perform well at the big tournaments."
That has held true as the season has continued, with the South African-Kiwi duo making the final in both Washington, D.C., and Toronto. They will look to continue that momentum into the rest of 2018, as they make a strong push for London.
And while their past two events have not gone according to plan — their Cincinnati and US Open runs ended in second-round defeats — Klaasen and Venus are very much in the thick of contention. They have a 115-point cushion ahead of eighth-placed Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, who reached the final at The O2 in 2017.