Klaasen going for gold

South African tennis star Raven Klaasen believes his team can go all the way at the Australian Open

FILE: Raven Klaasen. Picture: Facebook.com.

CAPE TOWN - South African tennis star Raven Klaasen believes he and Eric Butorac can go all the way to lift the men's doubles title at the Australian Open.

Klaasen will play in the biggest match of his career when he and his doubles partner Butorac do battle against eighth seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic in Thursday's semi-final at the Rod Laver Arena. The match is scheduled to start at 2am on Thursday.

"We are feeling real excited about tomorrow. 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.

"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" said Klaasen.

Fikile Mbalula, South African Minister of Sport and Recreation, called Klaasen at his Melbourne hosts home to wish him well ahead of the match.

"It was a long day at the tennis. I had a solid practice, then a rub down and did some media work and got caught in heavy traffic traveling 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.