Photo: Reg CaldecottTakashi Sanada (JPN)
World No. 13 Takashi Sanada of Japan beat a higher ranked French opponent for the second day in a row on Saturday to reach the men’s singles final at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open in Benoni. Sanada will face his third successive French opponent in Sunday’s final after world No. 2 Stephane Houdet held off world No. 8 Takuya Miki.
While David Wagner and Lucas Sithole, the world’s top two ranked players, reached the quad singles final and Sabine Ellerbrock and Kgothatso Montjane, the top two seeds, reached the women’s singles final, Canada’s Sarah Hunter also partnered Wagner to win the quad doubles title, while French top seeds Frederic Cattaneo and Houdet clinched the men’s doubles title.
Sanada and Houdet into men’s final
A day after beating fourth seed Frederic Cattaneo, Sanada beat fifth seed and world No. 10 Peifer 46 64 62. Peifer came from 3-0 down to take the opening set, but Sanada never looked back after taking a 3-1 lead in the final set.
“It was very windy, but that actually suits my game. Nicolas is a very strong player so I had to limit my mistakes. My confidence is also much better this year because I’ve made a change in racquet, wheelchair and my training and technique. So it’s all helped to make me a better player” said Sanada.
Top seed Houdet thwarted prospects of an all-Japanese final after avenging his loss to world No. 8 Takuya Miki at the Sydney International Open in January, earning a 64 63 victory this time.
“I was thinking about our last match where I lost really badly to Miki in Australia, so I was focused on just taking it a game at a time,” said Houdet. “I had a good strategy in the wind to keep the ball high. I was 3-1 down in the first set and then something broke in his chair. I fought back to four-all and then it was a different Miki and it felt easier for me. You need to be smart with the wind. My next opponent we’ve only played twice and two years ago. They practice together so I will come with the same strategy.”
The penultimate day of play concluded with Cattaneo and Houdet battling back from 4-1 down in the men’s doubles final against Dutchman Tom Egberink and Peifer. The top seeds ultimately claimed the last 11 games to lift the title 67(1) 64 60.
Sithole holds on to meet Wagner in quad final
Defending quad singles champion Wagner was in irresistible form, beating Britain’s world No. 5 Jamie Burdekin 60 61, dropping just the second game of the second set before reeling off 11 games in a row.
“The conditions were a little bit weird. It was windy, which it hasn’t been all week. That took some getting used to – the fast court, elevation and then wind. That combination of all three really means you have to be on top of your game,” said Wagner. “I was able to talk to one of our USTA coaches last night and we spoke about strategy. The last time I played Jamie I lost so we looked at that and a different game plan and fortunately it worked.”
World No. 2 Sithole had a much tougher time against fourth seed Hunter, eventually prevailing 75 75 after Hunter had recovered from 5-2 down in the first set and 5-3 down in the second set to draw level on both occasions.
“This was my worst game ever. I really performed badly. I need to improve because I’m playing the world No. 1 next,” said Sithole. “My chair also gave me problems. It broke down on me in the second set. Maybe I overturned or something. It broke down on the left hand side where I mostly balance so that meant I couldn’t chase too much and had to play the balls closest to me. But I got through it. Now I just need to focus on my own game and not worry too much about David’s game in the final.”
Hunter and Wagner completed a comprehensive victory to lift the quad doubles title, winning ten of their last 11 games against second seeds Burdekin and American Greg Hasterok to clinch the final 63 61.
Ellerbrock and Montjane advance
World No. 1 Ellerbrock made a slow start again in her semifinal as she was forced to come from 3-0 down against fellow German and world No. 10 Katharina Kruger before snatching the opening set. Ellerbrock also fought back from a break down in the second set, eventually clinching six games in a row to wrap up her 75 62 win.
“It was windy, but it was the same for everyone. I’m not happy with how I played, but I know the problem. I have a problem with my arm. It’s not an excuse and it’s an old problem, but it was difficult for me to play some shots today,” said Ellerbrock. “I hope the physios can fix it because they are really good here. Katharina played a good match and I played too often to her forehand, so that wasn’t very smart of me. But if you still win, it’s easier to accept that I didn’t play my best today.”
World No. 7 Montjane won eight of the last nine games of her semifinal against world No. 8 Lucy Shuker of Great Britain, dropping just the opening game of the second set to earn a 75 61 victory and keep her women’s singles title defence on course.
“I'm very happy because it wasn’t easy. The weather was tricky and I struggled to get into the game,” said Montjane. “I’ve played Sabine a few times. She’s a tough opponent but you never know what will happen on the day in a final. I think it’s huge for wheelchair tennis in South Africa for two South Africans to reach the finals. For both of us it’s great because we’ve put a lot of work into this.”
Third seeds Charlotte Famin of France and Kruger dominated the closing stages of both sets of their women’s doubles semifinal against second seeds Francisca Mardones of Chile and Montjane to reach the final with a 62 63 win. They will now play top seeds Ellerbrock and Shuker, who defeated South Africa’s Rose van der Meer and Mariska Venter 60 60 in the other semifinal.