Photo: Fundacio Tommy RobredoGustavo Fernandez (ARG)
South Africa’s Evans Maripa will join former champions Stephane Houdet and Gustavo Fernandez and Belgium’s Joachim Gerard in Saturday’s men’s singles semifinals at the Swiss Open, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, after world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda withdrew from the ITF 1 Series event on Friday due to illness.
After two days of contending with feverish symptoms Kunieda followed his withdrawal from the men’s doubles quarterfinals on Thursday by withdrawing from the tournament before his singles quarterfinal, handing seventh seed Maripa a walkover and a place in the last four against defending champion Fernandez. The Argentinian world No. 5 kept his title defence on course with a 62 61 win over eighth seed Philippe Bedard of Canada.
With Kunieda’s challenge over, Takashi Sanada did his best to keep Japanese hopes alive when the world No. 10 and fifth seed pushed three-time champion Stephane Houdet to a second set tiebreak in their quarterfinal. However, world No. 2 Houdet held on for a 64 76(4) win that sets him up with a semifinal against his doubles partner and fourth seed Joachim Gerard, who beat sixth seed David Phillipson of Great Britain 62 64.
Roland Garros champions Gerard and Houdet remained firmly on course for another men’s doubles title after dominating their semifinal against third seeds Fernandez and Phillipson for a 63 60 semifinal victory.
However, there was an even more clear-cut victory in the other semifinal as Bedard and Israel’s Asi Stokol beat Swiss duo Matthias Huerlimann and Nico Keller 60 60, with Huerlimann and Keller having benefitted from the quarterfinal withdrawal of Kunieda and Sanada.
With all three of the doubles finals scheduled for Saturday, there was an upset in the quad doubles semifinals as Britain’s Jamie Burdekin and Dorrie Timmermans-van Hall of Netherlands got the better of American top seeds Greg Hasterok and David Wagner 75 26 63.
Burdekin and Timmermans-van Hall will meet the second seeds, Australia’s Dylan Alcott and South Africa’s Lucas Sithole, in the final after Alcott and Sithole outclassed French duo Thomas Huguenin and Sebastien Jance 60 60.
Ahead of Saturday’s women’s singles semifinals world No. 1 Yui Kamiji’s bid to maintain her challenge for both singles and doubles title started in indifferently as she and her compatriot Kanako Domori dropped the opening set of their doubles semifinal. However, the second seeds regrouped to eventually beat Charlotte Famin of France and Germany’s Katharina Kruger 46 62 62.
There was never any hint of an upset in the other semifinal as top seeds Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany and Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa eased to a 60 60 victory over Switzerland’s Gabriela Buehler and Colombia’s Johana Martinez.
Montjane and Sithole's semifinal doubles victories came on a day when both players were honoured, along with Wheelchair Tennis South Africa Coach Hloger Losch, at the Gauteng Sport Awards.
Montjane was named Sportswoman of the Year with a Disability, Sithole was named Sportsman of the Year with a Disability and Losch was named Coach of the Year at the wards in South Africa.