Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
24 Jan 2014
6:10 am

For Raven it hasn’t quite sunk in yet

Wesley Botton

At the back end of a dream week at the Australian Open, Raven Klaasen is trying to maintain his focus while the magnitude of his achievement sinks in.

FILE PICTURE: Raven Klaasen of South Africa during his match against Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo of Spain at the SA Tennis Open.©Chris Ricco/Backpagepix.

Klaasen, below right, and American partner Eric Butorac booked their place in the Melbourne final yesterday as the unseeded duo coasted to a 6-2, 6-4 victory over eighth seeds Daniel Nestor of Canada and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia. The match lasted only 64 minutes.

“It’s terribly exciting. We dream of this when we start playing tennis, of one day competing on the biggest stages, in the biggest matches,” Klaasen said.

“Before the match I would be lying if I said the nerves weren’t tingling, but it was exciting out there, and to be out on the Rod Laver Arena (centre court at Melbourne Park) was exceptional.

“You try and soak it in, but at the same time concentrate on what you’re doing, so I really enjoyed being out there with Eric.”

Before the start of the tournament, Klaasen had never progressed beyond the third round of a Grand Slam, but he will return tomorrow when he and Butorac face 14th seeds Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Robert Lindstedt.

If they win, Klaasen will become the first South African to win the men’s doubles at the Australian Open since Ellis Ferreira secured the title with American Rick Leach 14 years ago.

“There’s one more match and we’re all going to leave everything out on court, so we’re expecting a massive battle,” he said.

Klaasen had received a phone call from Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula earlier in the week, and he was delighted with the support he was receiving back home.

“That call meant the world to me. When I started the tournament I had no idea how many people were behind me. It’s overwhelming.”