Home favourite Ben McLachlan captured the doubles title in Tokyo for the second year in a row on Sunday, partnering German Jan-Lennard Struff past No. 3 seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 6-4, 7-5 to triumph at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018.
"[It's] awesome. We've been doing great and we've had a great year, doing well in a lot of the big tournaments," McLachlan said. "Winning a title and actually holding up a trophy is an amazing feeling."
The fourth seeds had already shown their abilities as a pair this season, advancing to the semi-finals at the Australian Open and in Miami, while also reaching the last eight at Wimbledon. But this is their first team triumph, and Struff’s first victory in singles or doubles on the ATP World Tour.
"I know this legend has won already some titles but it's my first, so I'm very happy to win here," Struff said. "It was a great week and I love Tokyo so much."
McLachlan and Struff were strong throughout the week, winning the ATP World Tour 500-level event without dropping a set. For their efforts, they will share $115,620 and each gains 500 ATP Doubles Rankings points. The team will climb to No. 11 in the ATP Doubles Race To London, as they attempt to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.
McLachlan arrived in Tokyo with plenty of momentum, not only as the defending champion (w/ Uchiyama), but having lifted the trophy at last week’s Shenzhen Open. The Japanese doubles star now owns three tour-level titles.
Despite their loss, Klaasen and Venus earned three more points in the match than the winners (63-60). The difference came on break points, as McLachlan and Struff saved all five they faced in the match.
"First set I think we did a great job, broke them at 4-4. From the second set on, they put a lot of pressure on our serves. We tried to win the first point on our serves in the game, but it was tough, they put a lot of pressure," Struff said. "They were better in the second set, but we tried to fight for every point and in the end, we are very lucky and very happy to win the title here."
These two teams can meet again in the second round of the Rolex Shanghai Masters, where Klaasen/Venus have a bye as the No. 7 seed. While Klaasen and Venus will be disappointed to not claim their second title as a pair, they still split $56,620 and add 300 points to their tally.
“It’s been a great week for us. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and thanks to the crowd,” Venus said. “It was an unbelievable atmosphere out here.”
Photo Credit: Hiroshi Sato