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Doubles Take: Klaasen/McLachlan, Jurak/Klepač clinch hardware on 500-level stage
Elsewhere, Kaja Juvan and Natela Dzalamidze claimed the Winners Open trophy at the WTA clay-court event in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Published Aug 10, 2021
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In 2018 and ‘19, Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus were one of the more successful teams on the men’s tour, reaching 10 finals over that time, including Wimbledon and the ATP Finals. Their third and final career title together came at the Citi Open two years ago.
Technically the defending champions at the Washington, D.C. event due to its postponement last year, Klaasen and Venus reached the final again over the weekend—albeit with different partners. Klaasen and Ben McLachlan took on Venus and Neal Skupski in the championship match, and in a hard-fought two-set encounter, Klaasen came away as the two-time winner. It’s the second title together for the winning team, who triumphed in Cologne, Germany, last fall.
Last year marked the first time since 2015 that Darija Jurak failed to win a title. For Andreja Klepač, her own three-year streak also came to an end.
In 2021, it’s been apparent that both veterans are eager to make up for lost time.
The Croatian-Slovenian duo just claimed their second title in their past three tournaments in San Jose, Calif. After escaping in a match tiebreak in the first round, the second seeds didn’t drop another set the rest of the week, culminating with a win over Luisa Stefani and Gabriela Dabrowski, the top seeds, in the final. It’s the third title of 2021 and ninth of her career for Jurak, while Klepač claimed her 10th overall.
CONQUERING THE CLAY
It was a banner week for Slovenians on the WTA Tour this past week as Klepač’s countrywoman, Kaja Juvan, made a big breakthrough in her burgeoning career. The 20-year-old teamed up with Natela Dzalamidze of Russia to capture the inaugural title at the Winners Open in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
The top four seeds all fell in the first round, meaning it was anyone’s ballgame at the clay-court tournament. In the end, though, it was Juvan and Dzalamidze that came through, knocking off Katarzyna Piter and singles finalist Mayer Sherif to be the last team standing. Heading into the match, the only player among the four finalists that had won a doubles title on the main tour was Piter, who came in first back in 2013 in Palermo with Kristina Mladenovic.
Both tours are convening north of the U.S. border in Canada for the National Bank Open in Toronto (ATP) and Montreal (WTA). On the men’s side, top seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic will look to try to add to their record-making season with a 10th victory in 2021. Second seeds Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal face a tricky opener against two-time Masters 1000 finalists Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov, showing that tournaments at this level are particularly dangerous with a whole range of tough teams lurking around unseeded. Case in point: Washington winners Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan don’t have a number next to their names on the draw sheet, and could potentially see D.C. finalist Michael Venus again, this time in the second round as the New Zealander is teaming up with Tim Puetz, in the midst of a career year. Venus and Puetz are seeded seventh this week.
For the women, this year’s Australian Open champions Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka are the top seeds. Though they’ve spent much of the year apart and will only be teaming up sporadically from now on, the two are one of the most dangerous duos on hard courts on the WTA Tour. Melbourne was their second major victory together after their 2019 US Open triumph: Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, who’ve won four titles together in 2021—three of them on hard courts, including the Miami Open—are the second seeds, followed by Demi Schuurs and Nicole Melichar.