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Former tennis No.1 to make pro debut

Former world number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who retired from professional tennis last year, will make his golf debut on the European Tour this week at the Russian Open.

Kafelnikov received a wild card entry into the $500,000 tournament which begins at the Moscow Country Club on Thursday.

"As co-organisers of the Russian Open we had a right to give out wild cards to our members and we felt that Yevgeny's presence will greatly enhance the image of our tournament," Russian Golf Association (RGA) president Konstantin Kozhevnikov told Reuters on Monday.

Kafelnikov has been an avid golfer for a long time. He also serves as one of RGA's vice presidents.

"I'm serious about golf," the former French and Australian Open champion said in May after taking part in an annual President's Cup invitational tournament, where his team finished third.

"I know it takes countless hours of practice before you learn all the intricate parts of this game but I'm prepared to give it a try."

The 31-year-old, who has gained considerable weight since ending his tennis career, will follow in the footsteps of another former tennis world number one Ivan Lendl.

The Czech-born American, winner of eight grand slam titles in tennis, birdied his first hole on his debut in the 1996 Czech Open but then bombed to an 82, missing the cut.

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