Photo: Nicolas RighettiStephane Houdet (FRA)
World No. 2 Stephane Houdet and world No. 4 Gustavo Fernandez both remain on course to add to their tally of Swiss Open titles after each securing three set wins on the penultimate day of the ITF 1 Series event on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour in Geneva.
Meanwhile on a mixed day for South Africa’s top ranked players Lucas Sithole won through to meet defending champion David Wagner in the quad singles final for the second successive year, while world No. 1 Yui Kamiji and world No. 3 Sabine Ellerbrock booked their places in the women’s singles final.
Third seed Fernandez kept his men’s singles title defence alive after a semifinal against South African seventh seed Evans Maripa that featured three major shifts in momentum. After taking Fernandez to a first set tiebreak earlier this year at the Pensacola Open Maripa took his first set of tennis off the Argentinian in three matches, but Fernandez regrouped to wrap up their last four match 62 16 60.
Second seed Houdet is bidding to add to three previous Swiss Open titles and the Frenchman and his Belgian doubles partner Joachim Gerard played out two closely contested sets in their semifinal before Houdet emulated Fernandez and sealed the third and final set without dropping a game for a 63 57 60 victory.
Later in the day the Roland Garros champions duly justified their top seeing for the men’s doubles after breezing through their final against Canada’s Philippe Bedard and Israel’s Asi Stokol 60 60.
The day after being among those honoured in their absence at the Gauteng Sports Awards in South Africa, Sithole and Kgothatso Montjane had conflicting fortunes in their respective quad singles and women’s singles semifinals.
World No. 2 Sithole earned his opportunity for a rematch of last year’s quad final in Geneva after defeating world No. 5 ranked Briton Jamie Burdekin 62 61.
World No. 1 Wagner had a tougher time in the second set of his semifinal against Australia’s world No. 4 Dylan Alcott, but Wagner went on to complete a 62 75 win that puts him within one match of what would be an eighth Swiss Open quad singles title.
While Sithole was ‘unstoppable today’ according to his semifinal opponent Burdekin, world No. 7 Montjane described her women’s singles semifinal against Japan’s Kamiji as ‘the worst match I have ever played’. Kamiji won 62 60 to set up Sunday’s final against second seed Ellerbrock after the German defeated Charlotte Famin of France 75 61.
There was better news for Montjane in the women’s doubles final, but not before she and Ellerbrock lost the opening set without winning a single game. However, the top seeds regrouped to eventually beat the Japanese second seeds, Kanako Domori and Kamiji, 06 61 64.
The quad doubles final proved to be an enthralling encounter, with Australia’s Dylan Alcott and Sithole edging out Burdekin and Dorrie Timmermans-van Hall of Netherlands 76(3) 64 to claim their third title of the season together.