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Klaasen flies the flag

Wildcard Raven Klaasen is the last local standing at the South African Open tennis tournament in Johannesburg.

That’s after Izak van der Merwe went down 7-6 6-1 to bearded eighth seed Stephane Robert of France at the Montecasino tournament on Wednesday.

Lanky Van der Merwe was competitive in the first set with his big serve-and-volley game but crumbled in the second as the world’s 100th-ranked player romped away with the spoils.

There was still more disappointment for local supporters when top doubles pairing Wesley Moodie and Zimbabwean Kevin Ullyett crashed out in the first round.

South African Moodie is rated 10th in the world on the doubles rankings and is part of SASCOC’s Opex squad for potential 2012 Olympic medallists.

But despite fighting hard Moodie and Ullyett went down 7-6 (2) 7-6 (3) to Belgians Xavier Malisee and Steve Darcis.

It was two-time grand slam winner Ullyett’s swansong on the professional circuit. Moodie meanwhile is suffering a stress injury that is expected to keep him out of competition for around six weeks.

Klaasen will take be hoping to keep South African interest alive when he takes on Taipei’s seventh-seeded Yen-Hsun Lu in the second round on Thursday.