09 Jul 2014

Sithole survives scare in Geneva

Match Report

Photo: Reg CaldecottLucas Sithole (RSA)

World No. 2 Lucas Sithole, the runner-up in 2013, survived a marathon quarterfinal against Dutchwoman Dorrie Timmermans-van Hall on Wednesday’s second day of the Swiss Open, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, to reach Friday’s quad singles semifinals.

Twenty seven-year-old Sithole, a triple amputee after falling under a train when he was a child, went into Wednesday’s match against Timmerman-van Hall, who took up wheelchair tennis in 2002 after losing both her legs and her fingers as the result of a bacterial blood infection, still looking for his first career win over the former top 10 ranked Dutch player.

In fact Sithole had only taken two games off Timmermans-van Hall in their previous two matches, those two games for the South African coming in their most recent contest in 2011. However, that was before Stihole’s rise to prominence in 2012 and, most notably in 2013, when he became the first African player to win both a Super Series and a Grand Slam wheelchair tennis title.

Sithole is less than a week away from starting the defence of his British Open title and edged into the last four in Geneva after defeating Timmermans-van Hall 57 76(6) 76(5).

“It seems like I’m very good when I’m behind rather than when I’m in front”, said Sithole on his Twitter account after negotiating his last eight match at this week’s ITF 1 Series tournament. He will go into Friday’s semifinals facing world No, 5 Jamie Burdekin after the Brit, American world No. 1 and defending champion David Wagner and Australian world No. 4 Dylan Alcott all dropped just one game apiece in their quarterfinals.

Kamiji to face Smit in women’s quarterfinals

The women’s singles quarterfinals take centre stage on Thursday’s third day of play, with Japan’s current world No. 1 Yui Kamiji taking on former world No. 1 Maiike Smit, one of the long line of Dutch women’s champions to grace the sport. Smit has long since ‘retired’ from playing full-time on the Tour, but remains a highly skilled player, as she showed when dropping just two games to Colombia’s Johana Martinez in her opening match.

Russia’s world No. 1 ranked junior Viktoriia Lvova faces South Africa’s senior world No. 7 Kgothatso Montjane in the other quarterfinal in the top half of the draw. German fourth seed Katharina Kruger also meets Charlotte Famin of France in an intriguing match-up and second seed Sabine Ellerbrock plays Chile’s Francisca Mardones, with an all-German semifinal between Ellerbrock and Kruger still a possibility.

The seeded players in the men’s singles all started their campaigns with straight sets wins, Canadian eight seed Philippe Bedard dropping the most games of any of the main protagonists, although still beating Patrick Grabit of France comfortably, his 63 62 victory earning Bedard a quarterfinal against Argentina’s defending champion Gustavo Fernandez.

Japan’s world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda plays South African seventh seed Evans Maripa for a semifinal berth, with fourth seed Joachim Gerard of Belgium meeting British sixth seed David Phillipson and French world No. 2 Stephane Houdet taking on Japanese fifth seed Takashi Sanada.

After joining Ellerbrock for a wheelchair tennis exhibition involving Mansour Bahrami at the end of Tuesday’s first day of play Houdet’s first competitive match in Geneva ended in a 62 60 win over young Dutchman Rody de Bie.

Order of Play - Thursday, 10 July