18 May 2017

Fernandez beats Kunieda; Miki, Khanthasit star in Japan

News Article

Photo: Mathilde DusolSakhorn Khanthasit (THA)

Gustavo Fernandez maintained his hopes of regaining the men’s singles title at the Japan Open, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, after a hard-won 76(6) 64 victory over former eight-time champion Shingo Kunieda in Thursday’s second round matches in Iizuka.

With Kunieda bowing out after the much-anticipated contest as continues to come back from injury, Takuya Miki and Takashi Sanada take Japanese hopes into the last eight of the men’s singles, world No. 10 Miki having upset world No. 6 Stefan Olsson.

Meanwhile, former women’s world No. 6 Sakhorn Khanthasit also caused an upset, defeating third seed Marjolein Buis in straight sets to also book her place in the last eight of the women’s singles.

World No. 4 Fernandez, the 2012 champion in Iizuka, goes on to play Sanada for a place in this year’s semifinals after beating Kunieda in their first ever meeting at the Japan Open. Sanada eased through his second round match against Daisuke Arai 61 60, the same score by which reigning champion Stephane Houdet and sixth seed Alfie Hewett also advanced after beating Abu Samah Borhan and Banjob Suwan.

World No. 1 Houdet next meets Miki, who beat last year’s Wimbledon finalist Olsson for the very first time on Thursday, defeating the Swedish fifth seed 60 64.

The 2017 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour began with Alfie Hewett facing Ncolas Peifer in the first men’s singles Super Series final of the year in Sydney in January and the two will meet for a semifinal berth in Iizuka after world No. 5 Peifer defeated Thailand’s Wittaya Peem-Mee 64 62 on Thursday to maintain his ambitions for a second Super Series title this season.

The remaining quarterfinal at the bottom of the men’s draw will see world No. 2 Gordon Reid, a 62 62 winner over 2002 Japan Open champion Satoshi Saida, take on Dutch seventh seed and 2013 champion Maikel Scheffers. Scheffers made it four successive wins over Lee, their second meeting at the Japan Open since Scheffers’ first beat Lee in Iizuka in 2008, ending in a 46 61 63 victory.

Khanthasit upsets Buis to return to Japan Open quarterfinals

Khanthasit, a former quarterfinalist and semifinalist in Iizuka, will contest the women’s singles last eight for the first time since 2013 after defeating world No. 4 Buis 64 61 to make it two wins apiece in their career head-to-heads.

Thailand’s former Paralympic doubles medallist, currently world ranked No. 47, goes on to play Germany’s 2012 Japan Open champion Sabine Ellerbrock for a place in the semifinals. Ellerbrock beat Japan’s Saki Takamuro 61 61 as the women’s seeds all made their Japan Open debuts this year.

Yui Kamiji opened her campaign for a fifth straight Japan Open women’s title with a routine 61 61 win over Korea Republic’s Ju-Youn Park. World No. 2 Kamiji is the sole remaining Japanese player in the women’s draw after sixth seed Lucy Shuker, Kamiji’s next opponent, defeated qualifier Emi Suda 61 60, world No. 3 Diede de Groot beat Momoko Ohtani  62 63 and world No. 4 Aniek van Koot beat Manami Tanaka 60 63.

After winning the second Super Series singles title of her career in South Africa last month, de Groot next plays South African eighth seed Kgothatso Montjane.

Montjane earned her place in the last eight after overturning the result of her only previous contest this season against USA’s Dana Mathewson. With the American having beaten Montjane for the first time at the ITF 3 North West Challenge in February, Montjane emerged back on top in Iizuka, winning 64 67(6) 61.

With Ellerbrock facing Thai opposition in the shape of Khanthasit in the quarterfinals, her countrywoman Katharina overcame Thai opposition to book her place in the last eight, defeating Wanitha Inthanin 64 61. Kruger places de Groot for a place in the semifinals.

Top four seeds to contest quad singles semis

For the second successive day one of Japan’s top two ranked players provided a tough early challenge for a seed in the quad singles.

World No. 9 Mitsuteru Moroishi took the opening set of his men’s singles quarterfinal against world No. 3 Andy Lapthorne, but Lapthorne came back strongly to book his place in the semifinals 46 61 62.

The third-seeded Brit will now attempt to reach his first Japan Open quad singles final when takes on reigning champion Dylan Alcott in the semifinals. World No. 1 Alcott progressed his challenge for his third straight Japan Open title with a 62 62 win over USA’s Greg Hasterok.

With David Wagner and Lucas Sithole both having become Japan Open champions before Alcott, the world No. 2 and world No. 4 will meet for a place in this year’s final. Seven-time champion Wagner beat Antony Cotterill 63 63 in his quarterfinal, while Sithole made it two wins from two matches against Korea Republic’s Kyu-Seung Kim as South Africa’s 2014 champion advanced 60 64.