Photo: Steve WylieLucas Sithole (RSA)
World No. 2 Lucas Sithole won a thrilling quad singles final as Shingo Kunieda and Yui Kamiji secured a Japanese double in the men’s and women’s singles at the Melbourne Open, the last ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour event before the Australian Open, on Sunday.
Sithole was taken to a final set tiebreak for the second time in successive tournaments against a British player, but after being edged out by Jamie Burdekin in their round-robin match at the Sydney International Open Sithole clinched the crucial points this time as he held off defending Melbourne Open champion and world No. 3 Andy Lapthorne 64 57 76(5).
US Open champion Sithole will now go in to his first Australian Open with two singles titles from his two tournaments in 2014.
After his semifinal berth in Sydney, Kunieda completed the perfect preparation for his Australian Open title defence when he completed a comprehensive 62 60 win over Dutch world No. 5 Maikel Scheffers in the men’s singles final.
Kunieda is undefeated at the Australian Open since 2007, having won six men’s singles titles. He did not contest the first Grand Slam of the year in 2012.
In the women’s singles NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion and world No. 3 Kamiji claimed her first title of 2014 as the second seed sealed a comfortable 61 64 win over Britain’s world No. 8 Lucy Shuker.
Both players will now be among the field of eight for the women's singles at the Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships, which starts on Wednesday.
The final day of play at the Melbourne Open also saw top seeds Gordon Reid of Great Britain and Scheffers retain their men’s doubles title and remain unbeaten in doubles competition in 2014.
Reid and Scheffers claimed their second title in a week as they followed up their Sydney International Open victory with a 75 75 win over second seeds Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Michael Jeremiasz of France.