02:45 PM GMT November 16, 2019
Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus saved two match points on Saturday afternoon for a place in the doubles title match at the Nitto ATP Finals.
The fifth-seeded South African-Kiwi team scraped past against top-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, the 2019 year-end No. 1 duo, 6-7(5), 7-6(10), 10-6 in two hours and nine minutes at The O2 in London. They recovered from 0/4 in the second-set tie-break and saved match points at 6/7 and 8/9.
“In the heat of the moment, you try and win the points,” Klaasen told ATPTour.com. “I didn’t realise we’d saved two match points. It’s nice to finally get the win as we’ve had some tough matches against these guys.”
Venus told ATPTour.com, “When I missed the volley early in the second set tie-break, it was frustrating to get down 0/4. We worked really hard to stay in the set and take care of our service games, so to be down in the tie-break was mentally tough. We came together and trusted ourselves.”
Klaasen and Venus, who went 2-1 to win Group Jonas Bjorkman, will now prepare to meet last year’s runners up Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut, the seventh-seeded French team, in Sunday's final.
Competing together at the Nitto ATP Finals for the second straight year, Klaasen and Venus have a 35-17 match record in 2019, including two ATP Tour titles at the Noventi Open in Halle (d. Kubot/Melo) and the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. (d. Rojer/Tecau).
In a tight 54-minute first set, a low backhand return from Farah at 5-5 got Klaasen in trouble and the South African hit a backhand volley into the net for the first break. But clever play from Klaasen in the next game saw Cabal get broken to 30 for a tie-break.
Klaasen and Venus moved to a 5/4 advantage in the tie-break. However, on the next point, Venus went for broke and missed a forehand on Farah’s serve. It was the impetus the Colombians needed and on their first set point at 6/5, Farah ripped a backhand return down the line, only for Klaasen to be stunned by the pace.
In the second set, Klaasen saved a deciding point deuce at 1-2 with a body serve to Cabal. In the second tie-break of the match, Klaasen and Venus, after falling behind 0/4, won six of the next eight points. Two match points for the Colombians came and went at 6/7 (Venus forehand volley winner) and at 8/9 (Cabal forehand return down the line into the net), before Farah hit a double fault at 10/10 for Klaasen and Venus’ fourth set point of the tie-break. Klaasen served down the middle and Farah mis-timed a forehand wide.
After a brief off-court break, Klaasen and Venus returned to The O2 and won the first five points of the Match Tie-break and completed their 35th match win of the year with a smash winner from Venus.
Cabal and Farah, who had beaten Klaasen and Venus in their past three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, finish their career-best season with a 50-19 match record, which includes the Wimbledon and US Open crowns among five titles. They had been aiming to become the first South American team to reach the final in Nitto ATP Finals history. Melo was runner-up in 2017 (w/Kubot) and 2014 (w/Dodig).