Photo: Reg CaldecottAndy Lapthorne (GBR)
It was another good day for the seeded players on Wednesday’s second day of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, with last year’s finalists in the quad singles and women’s singles beginning their challenges on a day when the quarterfinalists were decided in all three main draw singles events at the second Super Series event of the 2014 ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
Third seed Andy Lapthorne began his return to the scene of his first Super Series title with a 61 61 win over Israel’s Itay Erenlib. Lapthorne now plays eighth seed David Buck, one of three American players joining Lapthorne in the two quarterfinals in the top half of the quad singles draw. World No. 1 David Wagner and seventh seed Greg Hasterok will also meet for a place in the semifinals after dropping just three games apiece against South Africa’s Bonganiu Dlamini and USA’s Marc McLean.
“It’s amazing. I’ve won this event the last two years and I just seem to love it. My game seems to suit the altitude and the courts here,” said world No. 3 and defending champion Lapthorne. “To get off to a winning start is always good The first match is always tough and you don’t know how you’re going to play, so it's good to get it out of the way quite quickly and move on to the next one.
In the bottom half of the quad singles draw, South African world No.2 Lucas Sithole opened his bid to reach back-to-back finals at Ellis Park Stadium with a 60 61 win against Sweden’s Petter Edstrom.
“It was a good start for me. I took a lot from last week and which I worked on in this match. Moving my opponent around the court was one of them. This is one of the biggest tournaments for me and I want to use it to attack that number one spot,” said Sithole.
The four quarterfinalists in the bottom half of the draw dropped just three games between them as fifth seed Sarah Hunter of Canada and sixth seed Antony Cotterill both secured 60 60 wins against their South African opponents, while fourth seed Jamie Burdekin defeated South Africa’s David Mathebula 62 60.
Ellerbrock to meet Kruger again
While all eight seeds in the women’s singles began their challenges with straight sets wins, world No. 1 Sabine Ellerbrock is set to meet her fellow German Katharina for the second week in a row after Ellerbrock won their semifinal at last week’s ACSA Gauteng Open following a slow start.
Ellerbrock was much more dominant in her opening match in Johannesburg as she dropped just one game to Pauline Helouin of France, while world No. 10 Kruger overcame world No. 1 ranked junior Vikitoriia Lvova of Russia 64 62.
“The balls are bouncing higher here so you have to get used to that and string the racquets a bit different. But I feel good and I’m prepared for the quarterfinals. As the number one seed you are always under pressure to win. I just need to relax and enjoy myself out there," said Ellerbrock.
Dutchwomen Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot add two more world top 10 players to the draw than those that contested the Gauteng Open and Buis got her SA Open title defence off to a comfortable start, defeating Russia’s Ludmila Bubnova 64 61 ahead of meeting British fifth seed Lucy Shuker.
Second seed van Koot, seventh seed Charotte Famin of France and eighth seed Francisca Mardones of Chile all eased past South African opposition to seal their quarterfinal places, with Mardones set to take on world No. 6 Kgothatso Montjane after South Africa’s senior women’s No. 1 beat South Africa’s world No. 2 ranked junior Mariska Venter 64 62.
“It’s always important to get the job done so I’m glad I could pull it through. The higher altitude means you need to be careful. The balls wear out quickly so you lose that grip on the ball, and I struggled with that,” said Montjane. “You struggle to control the ball. But it takes one game like this to figure it out. It’s very different conditions to last week so I think you need to expect anything from any player.”
Miki celebrates birthday with second round win
In the top half of the men’s singles draw the only one of the four quarterfinalists to drop more than one game ain any set was Japanese sixth seed Satoshi Saida. After beating Israel’s Amir Levi 61 64 Saida now faces an intriguing contest against one of the most recent crop of leading Japanese players, world No. 8 Takuya Miki, who celebrated his 25th birthday with a 61 60 win over South Africa’s Mzwanele Thentsi.
For the second day in a row, defending champion Stephane Houdet dropped just one game as he set up a quarterfinal against Dutch seventh seed Tom Egberink, while Gauteng Open finalist Takashi Sanada plays 2013 SA Open finalist and second seed Gordon Reid for a place in this week’s semifinals. Frenchmen Nicolas Peifer and Frederic Cattaneo contest the remaining quarterfinal.