- Van Dyk fourth and motivated after excited mass finish in London
- Olympic rowers for Arnold Classic Africa
- Haig hits comeback trail with a vengeance at Killarney
- Mabulu grabs bronze, kata team wins three medals in Madagascar
- Cremona pulls out all the stops with best throw on SA soil
- Five-stroke cushion as Mistry makes her move
- SA five burn up the rinks in Europe
- Hamman changes tack and is rewarded with hurdles title
- Mansfield moves on to WP Amateur in confident mood
- February and McDougall take the spoils at Dairy
Star tennis trio are behind Raven all the way Down Under
- Updated: January 24, 2014
By Mark Etheridge
A trio of South African Davis Cup doubles players, have praised their fellow doubles exponent Raven Klaasen as he attempts to go all the way at the Australian Open on Saturday.
Klaasen and American partner Eric Butorac blazed their way to the doubles final where they’ll come up against the tournament’s 14th seeds ÔÇô Poland’s Lukasz Kubot and Sweden’s Robert Lindstedt ÔÇô after the completion of the women’s final at the year’s first grand slam event.
That should be early afternoon, South African time.
Current Davis Cup player Rik de Voest, veteran Jeff Coetzee and retired doubles ace Wesley Moodie all stood firmly behind Klaasen when contacted by Road to Rio 2016 on Friday.
Said De Voest from Japan where he is playing some team games ahead of Davis Cup action in Irene, Pretoria next weekend: “He and Eric have teamed up well since their first event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last September, and have been building on that success ever since.
“Raven is a great player and has good understanding and knowledge of the game. I believe his Davis Cup victory in doubles against Canada against Nestor helped him realise that he can compete with the top guys and it has finally come together at a major. I think it’s great for him and will set him up nicely for the rest of the year to have more success.
“I believe three out of the four players in the doubles finals will be contesting their first Grand Slam final and so it will be new territory for all of them. I do believe that if Raven and Eric continue to just play the same way they will be victorious in the final. I really do hope Raven wins as he is such a good guy, well spoken, passionate about the sport, patriotic and full of pride, and a great leader by example. I’ll be following closely and am sure they can come away with the win.”
Added the now retired Moodie, a previous Wimbledon doubles winner in 2005: “I always thought Raven had the potential to do well in doubles, but it’s been a great story of dedication, determination and comeback from injury.
“It should be an inspiration and hopefully give up and coming SA players hope that making a career out of tennis is something that is really achievable.
“I sent Raven an email yesterday to tell him just to enjoy the moment. I always played my best tennis when I was soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying myself. It’s not about chasing titles and trophies, but playing each point to the best of your ability, in doing that you focus on the process and not the end result.
“The great thing for Raven is ┬áthe career he’s wanted for so long is now a reality and he could play at this level for another five years or more if he stays injury free.┬áI’m very happy for him. I hope he goes on to win this title and many others.”
Coetzee is a long-travelled veteran on the ATP circuit and shared his thoughts on the Raven revival. In fact both him and Klaasen are hugely experienced at 36 and 31 respectively.
“I think it’s a combination of a couple of things that has seen him get this far,” said Coetzee. “Raven has always been a hard worker and last year had a great year with his old partner [he had at least five partners during the course of the year] and when he then played with Butorac they won in Malaysia.
“I think Eric helps Raven out more on his serve and they compliment each other really well.
“I also believe that beating some of the top guys last year gave him confidence and suddenly he had that inner belief that he belongs on the big stage ÔÇô it’s his show now everyone is invited!”
Can they go all the way and take the tournament title? “100%ÔÇª if they play like they have so far, I don’t see why not!”