CAPE TOWN - South African Raven Klaasen and American Rajeev Ram surged through to the semi-finals of the men’s doubles event in Halle, Germany, on Thursday by coming from behind to eliminate German qualifiers Andre Begemann (ATP doubles 65) and Tim Puetz (ATP doubles 310).
The defending champions at the ATP 500 tournament faced unexpected opponents in the German duo, who had ousted the highly-ranked French favourites, Richard Gasquet (ATP 30) and Lucas Pouille (ATP 15) in a comfortable 6-3 6- 4 victory.
Klaasen-Ram won 6-7(7) 7-6(5) 10-5.
It turned into quite a contest, as the Germans showed just how comfortable they are on grass, which may be due to the carpet courts readily available in their homeland during the winter.
However, if Klaasen and Ram were concerned, it certainly did not show, as the four men went toe to toe for much of the match.
Despite winning more points than their opponents in the first set, a set point eluded Klaasen and Ram in the tie-breaker.
Second seeds Klaasen and Ram managed to continue implementing their game plan, the pair clearly aware of the importance of the serve and return, as points are kept short on the fast surface. They maintained a high percentage of first serves throughout the match and the 1.93m Ram served comfortably under pressure, and managed to fire off a few aces.
The pair were in perfect sync as Klaasen took advantage of Ram’s powerful serve, and cleaned up at the net.
Despite being the smallest on court, at a modest 1.8m, the South African made quick work with some sneaky serve-and-volley points.
The winning duo’s experience showed in the third set tie-breaker, while the Germans faltered slightly, which saw them slide out.
Next Klaasen-Ram will face the Zverev brothers, who are the first brothers in 25 years to be ranked within the top 30 in singles. Despite a 10-year age gap, Mischa Zverev (ATP 29) is experiencing a resurgence, while Alexander Zverev (ATP 12) is enjoying the best tennis of his career.
It promises to be an interesting semi-final, as Klaasen and Ram hope to defend their title and bag their sixth title together.