Covid cuts down Raven Klaasen's Australian Open hopes

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Raven Klaasen. (Photo Credit: Peter Heeger)
Raven Klaasen. (Photo Credit: Peter Heeger)

He had already packed his bags to leave Cape Town when a mandatory coronavirus pandemic check torpedoed South African doubles star Raven Klaasen's hopes for next week's Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

A close associate of Klaasen has confirmed that while the amiable, 38-year-old, two-time Grand Slam finalist is in apparent good shape without symptoms, he was forced to withdraw from the tournament in which he had reached the final seven years ago.

"The crushing news was particularly galling for Raven," said his associate, "as he was hoping to launch 2021 in partnership with his new New Zealand-Japanese partner, Ben McLachlan, with whom he had won the Cologne Open at the tail-end of last year after a period of mixed results."

Ranked at one stage as the No 7 doubles player in the world, Klaasen's ranking has slipped relatively to 18th and one of South Africa's most successful all-time doubles players is clearly hoping to add to the 18 ATP titles he has won in partnership with McLachlan. 

Although the coronavirus blow has affected Klaasen in the short-term in the way it has numerous other South African sports stars, it should not affect his prospects and hopes in the future and he is expected to be back in tournament action shortly.

And the late starter to tennis prominence, who has been a crucial and consistently loyal member of the South African Davis Cup team with a 13-4 record, has no thoughts of retiring even though he is nearing the 40-mark.

South Africa will have two participants in the men's singles at the year's first Grand Slam, with Kevin Anderson facing Italian ninth seed Mateo Berrettini in the first round and Lloyd Harris opening his account against unseeded Mikael Torpegaard from Denmark.

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