© Hiroshi Sato

Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus defeat Joe Salisbury and Yasutaka Uchiyama at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Klaasen/Venus Save 6 M.P.; Triumph In 34-Point Match Tie-break

Third seeds to meet McLachlan/Struff in final

It is not every day that you see a 34-point Match Tie-break on the ATP World Tour. But on Saturday evening, No. 3 seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus outlasted Joe Salisbury and Yasutaka Uchiyama 4-6, 7-6(2), 18-16, saving six match points in a thriller to reach the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 final.

Is there even a way to describe what it feels like to save that many match points in front of a plethora of excited fans on Arena 1 in Tokyo?

“No, not really,” Venus said, smiling. “I think both our heart rates were racing like none other there throughout that, so we just tried to keep each other calm and focus on what we were trying to do and take it one point at a time.”

Watch Live

Salisbury and Uchiyama did not trail through the first 18 points of the Match Tie-break. And it looked like it might come to an end when Klaasen double faulted at 11/11. But Uchiyama gave that advantage right back. And eventually, after one hour and 51 minutes, Klaasen and Venus reached their fifth final of the season (1-3) in their first year as a team.

“I’ve never been part of a tie-break like that. It’s hard to sit and think that we got that far without someone taking a match point,” Klaasen said. “I hit a double fault and then he hit one right back to me and I was like, ‘Oh, man!’ So exciting and nervy and the crowd was feeling it too, so we’re really happy we were able to pull that through.”

Klaasen and Venus will now face defending champion Ben McLachlan (w/ Uchiyama) and his partner, Jan-Lennard Struff. The Japanese-German pair will compete in their first ATP World Tour final as a pair. They reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and in Miami earlier this year, while McLachlan triumphed last week at the Shenzhen Open with Salisbury.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time to calm down, but we have to regroup and make sure we don’t get too lost in this win today,” Klaasen said. “There’s a job to do tomorrow.”