Mbalula surprises Klaasen
Raven Klaasen (Getty Images)
Melbourne - South African tennis player Raven Klaasen received a surprise on Wednesday night on his arrival back from practise at his Melbourne hosts home before retiring to bed.
Klaasen who with his American partner Eric Butorac have reached Thursday’s semi-finals of the Australian Open received a phone call from minister of sport and recreation, Fikile Mbalula.
“It was a long day at the tennis.
"I had a solid practise, then a rub down and did some media work and got caught in heavy traffic travelling home.
"I got home and the phone rang and honestly I never expected minister Mbalula to be on the line.
"I asked who was speaking and when he told me it was the minister I was shocked.
"I never expected the call and was very excited that the minister took time out of his schedule to make a call to me.
"The minister wished my partner and I well for Thursday and said that 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” said Klaasen.
On Thursday 31-year-old Klaasen will play the biggest match of his career.
Unseeded, Klaasen and Butorac 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).
The match is scheduled first on the Rod Laver Arena at 02:00 on Thursday morning South African time.
The semi-final will be shown live on SuperSport.
“We are feeling real excited about tomorrow (Thursday)” said Klaasen.
“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 rearing to go tomorrow.
"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” continued Klaasen.