Mbalula surprises tennis star Klaasen

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Klaasen_Butorac Getty Images Raven Klaasen (right) with his doubles partner Eric Butorac. Picture: Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Johannesburg - South African tennis star Raven Klaasen received a surprise call from Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday.

“I asked who was speaking and when he told me it was the minister I was shocked,” said Klaasen, who has reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open with his US partner Eric Butorac.

“I never expected the call and was very excited that he took time out of his schedule to make a call to me. He wished us well for the semi-final on Thursday.”

Klaasen said he had a solid practice in the morning and did some media work before travelling home.

“I got home and the phone rang and honestly I never expected Minister Mbalula to be on the line,” he said.

“He said he and the country were very proud of me, and that everyone back home was behind me for the final and to go all the way with Eric.

“This really meant a lot to me and motivates me more to put in that extra effort on Thursday for South Africa.”

Klaasen and Butorac, who are unseeded, have beaten three seeded teams en route to the semi-finals, including the world's best doubles team, Bob and Mike Bryan.

In the semi-final, Klaasen and Butorac will do battle against eighth seeds Daniel Nestor (Canada) and Nenad Zimonjic (Serbia) at the Rod Laver Arena at 11am, Melbourne time (2am South African time).

Klaasen said he felt excited about the upcoming clash.

“Today we had a good hit, and my body is feeling good. I can really feel the support from back home and after a good dinner and sleep I will be raring to go tomorrow,” he said.

“We are confident and believe we can make the final and lift the trophy, but we are also aware that ahead of us are two giant hurdles and we need to give our all to overcome each one.”


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