Photo: Steve WylieKgothatso Montjane (RSA)
World No. 7 Jordanne Whiley, a semifinalist at the Apia Sydney International Open on her last visit to the event in 2012, ended the unbeaten 2014 sequence of Korea Republic’s Ju-Yeon Park as the first Super Series tournament of the season got underway on Friday at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre.
With comfortable early wins for the main protagonists in both the men’s and women’s singles, Whiley opened her season with a 62 63 win over Park just a day after the Korean player had added the New Zealand Wheelchair Tennis Open title to the Queensland Open title she won last weekend.
South African fourth seed Kgothatso Montjane was the only one of the four seeds in action on the opening day of the women’s singles, the world No. 6 defeating Australia’s Janel Manns 60 62 to set up a fascinating quarterfinal against Whiley.
Miho Niho, the runner-up to Park in both Queensland and New Zealand , began her Sydney International challenge with a 61 62 win over USA’s Elizabeth Williams to earn a quarterfinal against Dutch defending champion and world No. 4 Jiske Griffioen.
Third seed Griffioen, top seed Sabine Ellerbrock and second seed Yui Kamiji won five of the six women’s singles Super Series titles between them in 2013 and all had first round byes in Sydney this year. Ellerbrock starts her bid this year against Kamiji and Nijo’s fellow Japanese player Kanako Domori, who came through her first round match against Thailand’s Ratana Techamaneewat 63 63.
Kamiji, who won three Super Series titles in 2013 and made history in November by becoming the first non-Dutch player to win the women’s singles at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, will start 2014 against world No. 8 Lucy Shuker, who joined her compatriot Whiley In the last eight after a 61 60 victory over American Veronica Grove.
Seeds Jeremiasz and Miki among early men’s winners
Four Australians will contest the second round of the men’s singles after a day of straight forward wins for those who will now vie for quarterfinal berths.
Adam Kellerman and Keegan Oh-Chee both clinched 60 60 wins over fellow Australians, while Weekes and Parker both advanced 61 60, with Parker’s reward being a second round meeting with world No. 1 and defending champion Shingo Kunieda, whose victory in Sydney a year ago brought the first of three Super Series titles in 2013.
Apart from Kunieda , the remaining four Japanese players are all in the bottom half of the draw and Satoshi Saida and Takuya Miki both booked their places in the second round with 60 60 wins ahead of meeting each other for a place in the quarterfinals. Yoshinobu Fujimoto dropped just one game to Australia’s Henry de Cure and Takashi Sanada eased to a 61 61 victory.
On the back of finishing runner-up last week at the Queensland Open and winning the New Zealand Open immediately before arriving in Sydney, Miki was one of just two seeded men’s singles players in action on Friday. Seventh seed Michael Jeremiasz also booked his place in the last 16 with a 6-0, 6-1 over Australia’s former world No. 3 Mick Connell.
Alcott secures impressive early win in quad singles
After winning his first ever quad singles event at the New Zealand Open, Australian Dylan Alcott made a notable debut at the Sydney International Open when he beat Britain’s world No. 12 Jamie Burdekin. With Burdekin playing in his first ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour event since last July, when he was a Super Series semifinalist at the British Open, Alcott, a former leading junior player, secured a 62 61 victory.
The day’s other quad singles round-robin match ended with Britain’s world No. 7 Antony Cotterill securing a 61 61 win over Japan’s Takahiro Koga.