SA’s Klaasen through to Australian Open doubles finals

2014-01-23 11:33

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South African Davis Cup star, Raven Klaasen, and his US partner, Eric Butorac, have advanced to the men’s doubles finals of the Australian Open.

Klaasen and Butorac, unseeded, won a place in the finals of the first Grand Slam of the year when they outplayed No 8 seeds, Daniel Nestor (Canada) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia) 6-2 6-4.

This after Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula made a surprise phone call to Klaasen yesterday to wish him well for the semifinal match.

In a match that lasted only 64 minutes in the Rod Laver Arena, Klaasen and Butorac were the in-form team from the start. They played a clinical match and proved how to combine and play as a team. They got the basics right – good, solid serving, effective returning and crisp volley placements to beat a team who combined had a total of 133 titles between them, including 11 Grand Slam titles.

This is the first Grand Slam final for Klaasen and Butorac and it was Klaasen’s first Grand Slam semifinal appearance. Butorac reached the doubles semifinal in Melbourne in 2011 so came onto the court with some added confidence and advice for his partner.

“I’ve been to the semifinals before, but it is great to take a step further,” said Butorac after the victory.

“It’s been a dream run for Raven and we are having a great time on court.”

Klaasen was delighted with his win.

“That was unbelievable. We played a very clean match from start to finish. It was so much fun being out there on the big stage. I am really enjoying all the support from back home.”

Klaasen and Butorac now have beaten four seeded teams en route to the finals, including a memorable 7-6 (9) 6-4 victory in round three against top seeds and world number ones, Bob and Mike Bryan, the sensational US twin brothers.

In the final on Saturday, Klaasen and Butorac will play the winner of the semifinal being played today – either No 14 seeded pair Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt (Swe), or the No 13 seeded duo of Michael Llodra (Fra) and Nicolas Mahut (Fra).

Klaasen and Butorac got the early break in the third game of the opening set when they put pressure on the fragile Zimonjic serve.

Two games later, they broke Nestor to lead 4-1 and then held out to win the opener 6-2. Klaasen, dressed in black, and Butorac made 16 winners and only two unforced errors in the first set. Nestor and Zimonjic could only take five points against serve in the opener.

Showing high energy levels and good momentum, Klaasen and Butorac broke Nestor again in the fifth game of the second set when Klaasen, like a black panther on the hunt, crossed and put away a volley winner.

The South African/US team kept its composure and held serve to win the second set 6-4 and deservedly earn a spot in the final.

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