Michael Venus's French Open doubles title defence is over after tight third round loss at Roland Garros.
The 10th seeds Venus and South African Raven Klaasen have been beaten 7-6 (2) 7-6 (4) in 1 hour 43 by the 8th seeded Croatian Austrian pairing of Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya.
"We gave ourselves some chances and put ourselves in some good positions in the sets and I felt like we played well and if we keep doing that week in week out hopefully we will come through more times than not," Venus said.
The defeat ends a run of eight straight match wins for Venus at Roland Garros following on from his title last year and the Kiwi went down fighting.
The first set was as close as the score suggests and Venus was the best player on the court. He and Klaasen struck first in the third game with some tremendous returning from Venus leading to an early break of serve. However Klaasen dropped serve in the very next game after a double fault to start.
Games went with serve to force a tiebreaker with some tremendous points played from both teams. But the 8th seeds took control early with a point on Venus' serve and when they won both points of Klaasen's serve to go up 5-2, they comfortably served out the set in 47 minutes.
Without being disrespectful to Klaasen, his serve was the weak link in the match with Mektic and Peya able to constantly put the South African under pressure and he was broken again in the opening game of the second set, again serving a double fault which didn't help matters for the Kiwi South African combination.
However at 3-2 Mektic found himself 0-40 down on serve, but recovered to hold for 4-2. After Venus held serve Klaasen produced a wonderful backhand return in the next game to break Peya and level things up. Venus and Klaasen had a set point on Mektic's serve at 5-4 after Klaasen had fought back to hold from 15-40. But the chance went begging and the match was decided in another tiebreak.
Klaasen struggled again on serve losing both service points at 4-3, the first with a double fault and Mektic and Peya served out the match to secure a place in the quarter finals.
"It would have been nice to get the set point and we both would have liked to have played the tiebreakers a little differently. But we have to put it behind us and get ready for the grass." Venus said.
Venus entered the tournament ranked 14 in the ATP doubles rankings and is projected to slip to the mid 20's following the tournament due to the points he had to defend from winning the title last year.
Venus and Klaasen now turn their attention to the grass court season after a week off culminating in Wimbledon next month. The pair will play lead in tournaments in S-Hertgotenbosch and Halle with a possibility of playing in Eastbourne the week leading into the year's third grand slam
Meanwhile Artem Sitak will play his third round doubles match tonight with Dutch partner Wesley Koolhof. They are up against the tough 5th seeded Colombians Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah who won the Rome Masters two weeks ago and who made the semi-finals in Paris last year and finished runner up at this year's Australian Open.
"I have beaten them twice on hard courts and lost to them twice on clay. But they are a good team and have been playing together a long time. But we are confident and hopefully we can execute," Sitak said.