New Zealand's top ranked doubles player Michael Venus and his South African doubles partner Raven Klaasen have lost a tight final at the Japan Open ATP 500 tournament in Tokyo.
The world number 14 ranked Kiwi and Klaasen have been beaten by 4th seeds ex Kiwi Ben McLaughlin and German Jan Lennard Struff 6-4, 7-5 in 1 hour 22.
McLaughlin hails from Queenstown but has a Japanese mother and represents Japan. He was the defending champion in Tokyo.
McLaughlin and Struff won four of five deciding points in the match and weren't broken while Venus and Klaasen won three more points 63 to 60, but dropped serve once in each set. They will rue a failure to convert any of their five break point opportunities
Venus and Klaasen have now won just one of their five ATP finals this year, in Montpellier in February. Since then they have lost the finals at s-Hertogenbosch, Wimbledon, Toronto and now Tokyo.
Despite the defeat Venus and Klaasen have consolidated their place in the race to qualify for the season ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.
They are currently 7th in the race with the top eight teams after the Paris Masters next month, qualifying for the lucrative tour finals at the O2 Arena. Venus and Klaasen now have a more than 1000 point lead over Henri Kontinen and John Peers who are one of the few teams who could catch them.
This week's Shanghai Masters 1000 tournament looms as another big one for Venus and Klaasen because the Kiwi is likely to miss a couple of the European Indoor tournaments with his fiancée Sally expecting the couple's first child later this month.
Meanwhile New Zealand's top ranked singles player Rubin Statham has advanced to the second round of qualifying at the ATP US $75,000 Challenger tournament in Tashkent in Uzbekistan. Statham has beaten Kazakhstan's Roman Khassanov 6-2, 6-0. Statham will play India's Sumit Nagal tomorrow.
Olly Sadler has beaten Aussie Philip Sekulic 2-6 7-6 (3) 6-1 to reach the final round of qualifying at the ITF US $25,000 tournament in Toowoomba. At the same tournament Erin Routliffe is through to the second round of qualifying in the women's draw after a 6-4 6-1 win over Australian Elizabeth James.