24 Apr 2014

Hunter battles back to reach Gauteng semis

Match Report

Photo: Reg CaldecottSarah Hunter (CAN)

On another largely dominant day for the top seeds at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open, the nearest  the ITF 1 Series event in Benoni came to losing its first seed came in the quad singles as fourth seed Sarah Hunter battled back from a set down against USA’s Marc McLean to reach the semifinals.

McLean won the first two games and the last two games of the opening set in his quarterfinal, but Hunter did exactly the same to level the match and the Canadian world No. 6 went on to complete a sequence of eight successive games to wrap up her 57 63 60 victory that earns her a semifinal against second seed Lucas Sithole of South Africa.

“Sarah is a good player with a lot of experience. She’ll give me a tough test, which is what I want for this tournament to get me ready for next week’s Airports Company South Africa SA Open,” said world No. 2 Sithole after he and world No. 1 and defending champion David Wagner both won their quarterfinals 60 60.

“But I’m happy with how I’ve come through these two matches and retained my focus and concentration in them," added Sithole. "I think I’m building well for next week. By the end of this week I want all my weapons in one bag so I’m ready for the war next week,”

World No. 5 Jamie Burdekin made the most of an early break against American world No. 9 Greg Hasterok and the British third seed went on to seal a 64 62 victory ahead of meeting Wagner. Burdekin secured just his second career win over Wagner last month in the final of the Cajun Classic.

Women’s seeds cruise into last eight

As the eight seeded players started their challenges in the women’s singles, seven of the eight scheduled matches featured a 6-0 set. The only player not to win one of her two sets with six straight games was world No. 1 Sabine Ellerbrock as the German top seed defeated South Africa’s Rose van der Meer 61 61.

“It was a good start, but there’s always something to work on,” said the reigning Australian Open champion.

The most immediate concern for Ellerbrock was getting used to the altitude, and an outdoor environment for someone who plays most of her tennis indoors in Germany.

“It’s tough to get the rhythm here because the courts are fast at altitude. I was an able-bodied player before, so my mobility on court is something I’m always very aware of,” she said.

Ellerbrock will meet Chilean sixth seed Francisca Mardones in the last eight, when fourth seed Katharina Kruger will hope to set up an all-German semifinal as she takes on eighth seed Pauline Helouin of France.

The only player to reach the women’s quarterfinals without dropping a game was third seed Lucy Shuker of Great Britain, who goes on to play seventh seed Ludmila Bubnova after Bubnova won her all-Russian contest against leading junior Viktoriia Lvova 60 63.

Defending champion and local favourite Kgotahtso Montjane will play French fifth seed Charlotte Famin in the last eight. Second seed and world No. 7 Montjane and Famin both clinched 60 61 wins over their South African opponents.

Four of the eight men’s singles second round matches ended in 60 60 wins as seeded players all advance to the quarterfinals, dropping a total of just five games between them.

French world No. 2 Stephane Houdet and Dutch sixth seed Tom Egberink claimed two of the 60 60 wins ahead of meeting each other in the last eight, while another set of quarterfinal opponents, third seed Takuya Miki and eighth seed David Dalmasso yielded just a game apiece.

“It was another good match for me. My opponent has improved a lot since we last faced each other and I needed my best game out there. I had to be focused on every point," said Houddet after his victory over Poland's Kamil Fabisiak.

Houdet faces sixth seed Tom Egberink of The Netherlands in the quarters. “Tom is a good player with a very good serve, so that will be a tough match,” said the Frenchman.

Seventh seed Takashi Sanada joined his Japanese countryman Miki in the last eight, while fourth seed Frederic Cattaneo and fifth seed Nicolas Peifer ensured that there will be four Frenchman vying for semifinal places, with world No. 3 and second seed Gordon Reid set to take on Peifer next.