CAPE TOWN – It was so close, but yet so far for South Africa’s doubles star Raven Klaasen in the Wimbledon final on Saturday night.
Klaasen and his New Zealand partner Michael Venus were pipped at the death by American duo Mike Bryan and Jack Sock in a five-set thriller 6-3 6-7 (7/9) 6-3 5-7 7-5.
The decider went on serve until the 11th game, when Bryan and Sock broke to take a 6-5 lead and serve for the match, which they did to clinch victory.
Bryan usually plays with his twin brother Bob – who has a hip injury and was unable to play at Wimbledon – but Sock proved to be a worthy replacement.
The 40-year-old Mike Bryan, who secured his 17th Grand Slam doubles crown, will now return to the No 1 doubles ranking next week.
But it was a valiant effort from the 35-year-old Klaasen and Venus, who were immediately on the back foot when they lost the first set 6-3 on Saturday.
They fought hard to win a second-set tie-break 9/7, but they were unable to kick on from there, with Bryan and Sock hitting back to claim the third 6-3.
Their 72 percent success mark on their second serve proved to be one of the main differences for Bryan and Sock, compared to Klaasen and Venus’ 60 percent ratio.
The latter pair, though, managed to stay in the match by winning the fourth set 7-5 to take it all the way to a fifth.
Things appeared to be going well for Klaasen and Venus as they held serve up to 5-4, and they nearly broke their opponents at 5-3.
But once Bryan and Sock levelled matters at 5-5, they managed to get the crucial breakthrough to clinch the title.
South African fans will hope that their fortunes change on Sunday, when Kevin Anderson will take on Novak Djokovic in the singles final.