Klaasen wins ATP Malaysian Open

1 October 2013

South African Raven Klaasen and American Eric Butorac claimed their first ATP World Tour title as a doubles team when they defeated Pablo Cuevas and Horacio Zeballos 6-2, 6-4 to win the ATP Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

The duo won 81 percent of their first serve points and converted four of seven break points to seal victory in their first tournament as a team.

“It was a great match for us today and an awesome week in general,” Klaasen said after winning the final.

‘Very happy’

“I felt comfortable out there today and mainly due to the good start we had. It’s very tough to relax with this scoring format, but we were playing from the front and that helped. So, all in all, I’m very happy with the performance today.”

Butorac added: “From the first practice, until the final match, I thought we had a really great week together, put some good tennis on court, and that was what happened.”

“We knew the first match was probably going to be the biggest test because we hadn’t played together before, and we kind of had to figure a few things out. I feel like we got stronger every match, so we really enjoyed it out there, and the crowd today really showed up and made it fun out there for us,” said Klaasen.

First title of the season

The 32-year-old Butorac won his first title of the season, and first since Sao Paulo in February 2012. The left-hander improved his win-loss record in finals to 14-8, and has now won at least one title in every season since 2007. He said past success in Kuala Lumpur helped his title run this year.

The American thinks he works well with Klaasen, due to their affinity for attacking at the net. “I think we have different skills, but play a similar style of doubles. If you saw in the finals, the other guys wanted to sit back and hit shots really hard from the baseline, but we wanted to play a lot at the net.

“We were really able to craft the points and play them in our favour, so I think hopefully moving forward that we can use those tactical and court smarts to our advantage.”

Three titles in 2013

The 30-year-old Klaasen improved his win-loss record in finals to 3-1, and consolidated a successful fortnight. Last week, he captured his second title of the season in Metz with Johan Brunstrom. In May, he and Brunstrom won the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur.

Klaasen said that the win confirmed his good form of late. “It was good to capitalise on back-to-back ATP World Tour 250 wins. It gives me lots of confidence for next season.

World ranking

The South African doubles specialist is now ranked 46th in the world. “There is no better feeling than watching your ranking move in the right direction,” he commented.

Klaasen and Butorac are planning on building upon their partnership. “We’ve decided that we’re going to play together until the end of the season, and then we’ll start next year together too, so hopefully we can build on this momentum and form going into next season,” said Klaasen.

SAinfo reporter