It’s not often that you hear about a former Division III athlete making national sports headlines, but that is precisely what Gustavus Adolphus College alumnus Eric Butorac ’03 did in mid-January at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Butorac and his doubles partner, Raven Klaasen of South Africa, advanced all the way to the final of the ATP’s first major tournament of the year before falling 6-3, 6-3 to Lukasz Kubot and Robert Lindstedt. It was the first finals appearance at a Grand Slam event for Butorac in his 11-year professional career.
Butorac and Klaasen advanced to the finals with a straight set 6-2, 6-4 victory over the No. 8 seeds Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic on Thursday afternoon (Wednesday evening in the United States).
Butorac and Klaasen had to go three sets (6-7, 7-6, 6-4) to win their quarterfinal match against the No. 12 seeded tandem of Treat Huey and Dominic Inglot on Tuesday afternoon (Monday evening in the United States).
The victory over Huey and Inglot came a day after Butorac secured the biggest upset victory of his professional career when he and Klaasen took out the No. 1 seeds, Bob and Mike Bryan, in straight sets 7-6, 6-4. The Bryan brothers were not only the defending Australian Open men’s doubles champions, but the most successful doubles team in the Open era with 15 grand slam titles, including six at the Australian Open.
Butorac and Klaasen also received some attention earlier in the tournament when they defeated Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Patrick Rafter in the first round in front of a crowd of 7,000 people at Hisense Arena in what was Rafter’s first match on the ATP Tour since he retired in 2004.
Butorac, a native of Rochester, Minn., has been ranked as high as No. 17 in the world in men’s doubles. His current ranking of No. 48 is sure to improve when the latest rankings are released following the conclusion of the Australian Open. Butorac has 14 ATP doubles titles to his name with seven different partners. His career at Gustavus included winning the NCAA Division III national championships in both singles and doubles in 2003.
You can follow Butorac’s progress at the Australian Open online at australianopen.com.
Gustavus News Office: Eric Butorac ’03: Moving Forward and Giving Back
Rochester Post-Bulletin: Butorac, partner reach Australian Open semifinals
New York Times: Bryan Brothers Upset in Australian Open
New York Times Feature from 2010: Butorac Finds Success in Doubles
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Matt Thomas