Photo: Reg CaldecottAndy Lapthorne (GBR)
Second seed Andy Lapthorne was made to battle hard for his place in Sunday’s quad singles at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, after edging out his doubles partner and home favourite Lucas Sithole on the penultimate day of play in Benoni before the duo paired up to win one of the two doubles titles decided on Saturday at the ITF 1 Series tournament.
Lapthorne’s 75 06 64 victory over Sithole sets him up for a title decider against American world No. 1 David Wagner and denied South Africa a second main draw singles finalist after Kgothatso Montjane had clinched her place in the women’s singles final against Dutch top seed Jiske Griffioen.
Top seed Shingo Kunieda and second seed Gustavo Fernandez will contest the men’s singles final after Fernandez prevailed in three sets against world No. 9 Michael Jeremiasz of France.
Lapthorne and Wagner into quad final
After a three set quad singles quarterfinal, wold No. 3 Lapthorne again looked vulnerable in his semifinal and although he won the last four games of the opening set against third seed Sithole, the South African world No. 7 didn’t let any advantage slip in the second set and soon levelled the match.
The final set saw both players exchange the first nine games before Lapthorne broke Sithole’s serve and then held his own to seal victory.
Canada’s former world No. 2 Sarah Hunter made life difficult for Wagner in the second set of their semifinal, but top seed Wagner held on to claim a 62 64 victory.
“I’m thrilled to be through to the final and I’m looking forward to a big battle tomorrow,” said Wagner, who went to three sets with Lapthorne twice at the Australian Open in January in their only two matches so far this season.
Later in the day Lapthorne and Sithole had another tough three set match in the quad doubles final against American second sets Greg Hasterok and Wagner, but the top seeds eventually prevailed 63 16 75.
Fernandez edges Jeremiasz to set up Kunieda final
World No. 4 Gustavo Fernandez stayed on course in his bid for a third successive ITF 1 Series title after surviving a tough semifinal test at the hands of Jeremiasz.
Fernandez came from behind to earn what proved to be a decisive 5-3 lead in the opening set, but Jeremiasz fought his way back into the match after building on a 5-1 second set lead. However, Fernandez ultimately proved stronger in the decider to close out a 63 26 63 victory.
The Argentinean former world No. 1 ranked junior will now face world No. 1 Kunieda for the fourth time in his career. Kunieda needed all his speed and experience to see him through a tough opening set in his semifinal against Britain’s world No. 7 Gordon Reid, but the reigning NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion was the more consistent player in the second set as he recorded his 39th successive singles match win on the NEC Tour 64 62.
Fernandez reached his second final of the week in the men’s doubles after partnering Frenchman Frederic Cattaneo to a hard won semifinal victory over the Japanese partnership of Kunieda and Takuya Miki.
Cattaneo and Fernandez gained a narrow first set advantage over Kunieda and Miki, but the Japanese third seeds then let slip a commanding set lead as Cattaneo and Fernandez forced a tiebreak en route to a 64 76(4) win.
Top seeds Jeremiasz and Reid also had to work hard to hold off Eliphas Maripa of South Africa and Nicolas Peifer of France, after the fourth seeds forced a second set tiebreak in the other semifinal. However, Jeremiasz and Reid dominated the tiebreak to win 60 76(1).
Montjane maintains home hopes in women’s singles
World No. 7 Kgothatso Montjane will give the home fans plenty to cheer on the final day in Benoni after the South African world No. 7 sealed a convincing win over fifth seed Jordanne Whiley in the women’s singles semifinals.
After beating second seed and fellow Brit Lucy Shuker in the quarterfinals, Whiley was unable to cause another upset as Montjane opened up a 4-1 lead en route to the first set. The South African No. 1 and defending Gauteng Open champion then took a commanding 3-0 second set lead and wrapped up 62 63 win to book a place in her fourth career match against Griffioen, with Montjane still looking for her first win over the Dutchwoman.
World No. 3 Griffioen gained an early advantage in her semifinal against German fourth seed Katharina Kruger and went on to record a comfortable 62 61 win.
“Overall I felt great and in good control out there,” said Griffioen, who has not lost more than four games to Montjane in any of their three matches to date, their last contest coming in the last 16 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games before Griffioen went on to win the bronze medal.
While Montjane beat Whiley in their singles semifinal, the outcome was different in the women’s doubles final as London 2012 bronze medallists and top seeds Shuker and Whiley beat second seeds Kruger and Montjane 61 62.