Cape Town - South African tennis star Raven Klaasen and his New Zealand doubles partner Michael Venus made a winning start at the ATP Finals in London on Sunday.
The fifth-seeded pairing beat fourth seeds Rajeev Ram (America) and Joe Salisbury (Great Britain) 6-3, 6-4 in 64 minutes, saving all four break points they faced.
It was Klaasen and Venus' second straight appearance at year-end finals and they improved to a 33-17 win-loss record in 2019.
The SA-Kiwi duo won ATP titles in Halle and Washington DC and also made the semi-finals at Wimbledon.
"We'll take that every day of the week," Klaasen told the ATP Tour's official website. "To be the first match of the Finals is a bit nerve-racking and to get off to a good start certainly puts our minds at ease for the rest of the tournament."
Klaasen and Venus are paired in Group Jonas Bjorkman and will face second seeds Lukasz Kubot (Poland) and Marcelo Melo (Brazil) and eighth seeds Ivan Dodig (Croatia) and Filip Polasek (Slovakia) later in the week.
Results on the first day of the ATP Finals at London's O2 Arena on Sunday (x denotes seeding):
Group Bjorn Borg
Novak Djokovic (SRB x2) bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA x8) 6-2, 6-1
Dominic Thiem (AUT x5) bt Roger Federer (SUI x3) 7-5, 7-5
Group Jonas Bjorkman
Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus (RSA/NZL x5) bt Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury (USA/GBR x4) 6-3, 6-4
Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo (POL/BRA x2) bt Ivan Dodig/Filip Polasek (CRO/SVK x8) 4-6, 6-4, 10-5