Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus got off to a flyer at the Western and Southern Open as they thrashed the vastly inexperienced doubles pair of Richard Gasquet and Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-2 in just over 50 minutes. The unseeded pair will now face the fifth seeds Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot in a tight match-up.
Klaasen/Venus show their experience
The pair of Klaasen/Venus got off to a slow start on serve. The New Zealander Venus produced the first double fault of the contest to allow the French pair three early break point chances. Two excellent serves from Venus sent the game to a deciding point, which went the way of the more experienced pair who held to take the opening game.
After a slight scare, the pair then showed some excellent hand skills and defense at the net to earn two break points of their own at 30-40. They only need one opportunity as Klaasen's closing down at the net earned them the break for 2-0.
But they couldn't hold serve and the French pair struck back immediately to gain their first game at 2-1. Both pairs were struggling to hold serve and Gasquet/Mannarino got broken once again to fall behind 3-1. For the first time in three games, Venus held serve to give he and Klaasen a health 4-1 lead.
Things got even tougher for the French pair as they went down a double-break with Klaasen serving for the opener after just 20 minutes. Once again Venus continued to show quick, steady hand at the net as he and Klaasen picked up three set points. Venus this was the player showing great hands at the net with Gasquet unable to breakthrough as Klaasen/Venus went up a set, 6-1.
Klaasen/Venus continue on their way to the second round
The French pair began this second set by winning just their second game on serve with Gasquet holding to love for 0-1. For Klaasen/Venus, they continued where they left off, holding serve quite comfortably and showing quick, steady hands at the net as they made it 1-1.
The French pair seemed to have settled down in the match, holding their second service game for 1-2 in an attempt to put the pressure on the South African-New Zealand pair. However, they looked comfortable and for the first time in the match, all four players held their serve with the match at 2-2.
Just as they were finding their feet into the match, Gasquet/Mannarino found themselves love-40 behind and needing a monumental game to stay in the set. Mannarino's attempted stretch from a Klaasen crosscourt volley could only find its way into the net as the African-New Zealander took full control of the set at 3-2.
They consolidated to take a 4-2 lead, and in the following game, they broke yet again on their third attempt on deciding point to go within a game. Just like most of the match, Klaasen/Venus were showing excellent defense and hand skills at the net which helped them on their way to three match points. An unreturnable serve from the South African sealed the set and the match 6-1, 6-2.