Defending champion David Wagner secured his place in Monday’s quad singles final on the second day of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters as Lucas Sithole and Andy Lapthorne head for a crucial round-robin contest between the two of them on Thursday to decide the remaining place in the final at the Marguerite Tennis Pavilion in Mission Viejo, California.
World No. 1 Wagner made it two wins from his first two round-robin matches on Wednesday when he edged ahead of South Africa’s world No. 2 Lucas Sithole in head-to-heads this season.
The Californian based five-time NEC Masters champion had a similar match to his opening contest on Tuesday against Lapthorne and was pushed hard by US Open champion Sithole in the opening set before coming from 3-1 down in a tiebreak and then saving a set point at 6-5 down.
However, Wagner prevailed and then dominated the majority of the second set to wrap up a 76(6) 60 victory. Sithole is the only player to have beaten Wagner this season and coming into the NEC Masters both players had four wins apiece over each other.
“You never know what you’re going to get in tennis, that’s the beauty of it,” said Wagner. “Today Lucas was strong in the first set and I just happened to get some points to go my way in the second set.
“Lucas is extremely strong and fast and makes you run down everything. You almost have to play high-risk against him. We may face each other again (in the final), like we did in New York at the US Open.”
Sithole goes into Thursday’s third day of round-robin matches with the same record of one win and one loss as Lapthorne, after world No. 3 Lapthorne came back from his opening loss to Wagner to defeat American world No. 4 Nick Taylor 62 62. That means the winner of Thursday’s contest will join Wagner in the final.
Lapthorne currently leads Sithole 2-1 in head-to-heads this season, but Sithole won their crucial final round-robin match in three sets in a similar scenario at the US Open in September before going on to win his first Grand Slam title.