02 May 2014

Defending champions bow out at SA Open

Match Report

Photo: Reg CaldecottDavid Wagner (USA)

Defending women’s singles and quad singles champions Marjolein Buis and Andy Lapthorne went out of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open in Friday’s semifinals at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg as all three main draw doubles titles were decided.

World No. 2 Stephane Houdet and world No. 3 Gordon Reid reached Saturday’s men’s singles final for the second year in a row at the second Super Series event of the year on the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour as Sabine Ellerbrock and Aniek van Koot moved into the women’s singles final and David Wagner and Lucas Sithole booked their places in the quad singles final.

World No. 1 Wagner ensured a rematch of his quad singles semifinal in 2013 against Sithole when defeating world No. 3 Lapthorne in straight sets in the last four this year. Wagner beat Lapthorne 75 61, having twice moved two games ahead at 3-1 and 5-3 in the opening set before winning eight of the last nine games to end Lapthorne’s title defence.

Sithole and Canada’s Sarah Hunter were involved in one of the matches of the day as world No. 6 Hunter forced a deciding set against Sithole, but the world No. 2 just managed to make the breakthrough in the final set for a tense 63 46 75 victory.

“It was a tough match and I wasn’t prepared for it to be that long. Sarah played smart tennis and pushed me out of my comfort zone. But I’m happy with how I stayed focused the whole match,” said Sithole. “Against David I need to play him straight on his chair or move him to his forehand, because he has a very good backhand slice. I also need patience to rally with him, and make him move and work for the point.

“Lucas did a great job of keeping the ball in play. That's all it really took. I made some really silly mistakes, and ultimately that cost me the match. But I'm getting closer,” said former world No. 2 Hunter. “He was beating me easier two years ago than he is now. As long as I can hang in there with these guys at this rate then I'll probably keep at it."

The quad doubles final came to a thrilling conclusion after top seeds Hunter and Wagner prevailed in a final set tiebreak against British second seeds Antony Cotterill and Lapthorne, earning a 61 26 76(3) victory to follow up their ITF 1 Series title at last week’s Gauteng Open.

Ellerbrock and van Koot into women’s final

After missing last year’s  first Super Series event in Johannesburg, world No. 1 Ellerbrock kept herself on track for a possible second SA Open title when  beating Buis 64 63. Buis fought back from a set down at the start of both sets as she tried to keep her title defence alive, having won her first Super Series title in Johannesburg last year,  but Ellerbock clinched the last three games of the first set and the last four games of the match to seal victory.

"It was a tough match against a tough opponent. I tried to play aggressive and I think that worked pretty well. I'm looking forward to the final, and playing her on centre court because you have much more room to move on which could be important against Aniek because she is a big hitter,” said Ellerbrock."

World No. 4 Van Koot beat last year’s runner-up Kogothatso Montjane 63 64 in the other semifnal. Breaks in the first two and last games of the first set  were enough to give van Koot the advantage and after sharing the first eight games of the second set with Montjane, the second seed crucially held serve in the last game of the match to seal victory.

"I haven't been on my game this week. I hope every day it's getting a bit better,” said 2013 ITF World Champion van Koot. “I need to work on keeping my serve in. It's just the nerves. Sometimes I have that under control and sometimes I totally don't. But in the final I just want to go out there and have fun. I can't get too upset with every point I miss."

The resumption of the women’s doubles semifinal suspended on Thursday evening due to bad light saw Ellerbrock and Chile’s Francisca Mardones win the solitary game they needed to force a deciding set against top seeds Lucy Shuker and van Koot, but the British-Dutch partnership found their rhythm in the final set for a 62 36 62 victory.

However, come the final it was different outcome as Buis and Montjane put their earlier singles semifinal losses firmly behind them to lift the women’s doubles title 61 60, dropping just the tenth game of the match.

Houdet and Reid set for Johannesburg rematch

With the defending champions going out in both the quad singles and the women’s singles, Houdet and Reid both recorded straight sets wins in their semifinals to set a rematch of last year’s men’s singles final, while Houdet ended the day with victory in the men’s doubles, too.

As Houdet met Japan’s world No. 8 Takuya Miki in a Super Series semifinal for the second time this year and in an ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour semifinal for the second successive week, the top seed thwarted Miki’s bid for a place in his second Super Series final of the year with a 63 62 victory.   

"It was a good win. I'm used to these conditions now. This was probably my best game of the last two weeks,” said Houdet. “I haven't seen a lot of Gordon this week and last week. But he is a good friend so I'm happy to play against him. It could be a good final, and hopefully the same result as last year."

Reid beat Miki to win his first Super Series title at the Sydney International in January and the second seed kept his hopes of back-to-back Super Series victories alive with a 64 62 win over French fifth seed Nicolas Peifer, avenging his loss to Peifer in the quarterfinals of last week’s Gauteng Open.

Frederic Cattaneo partnered Houdet to an all-French victory in the men’s doubles as the top seeds eased to a 63 61 win over second seeds Peifer and Reid to follow up their Gauteng Open doubles victory.

Dalmasso and Famin win mixed doubles

With the ACSA SA Open again hosting a mixed doubles event, victory also went to France as David Dalmasso and Charlotte Famin justified top seeing to claim the spoils.

Having reached the mixed doubles final with two straight sets wins in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Dalmasso and Famin, who is due to make her Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros next month, had a much tougher time of it in the final, but eventually prevailed 64 36 (12-10) against Amir Levi of Israel and Mardones, the fourth seeds.