09 Jan 2018

Sanada beats Gerard in 2018 opener in Sydney

News Article

Photo: Gregory PicoutTakashi Sanada (JPN)

All but one of the 16 seeded players advanced to the men’s or women’s singles quarterfinals as the 2018 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour opened on Tuesday with Japan’s Takashi Sanada earning only his second career win over Joachim Gerard.

While the first two quad singles matches are due to take place on Wednesday, Gerard was the only seed to exit the singles events on the first day of play after rain caused an early delay to the start of the first Super Series event of the year.

Once the action got underway Sanada set up the mouth-watering prospect of a clash between the world No 8 and world No. 9 ranked men’s players as he saw off the challenge of his compatriot Satoshi Saida 61 64.

After winning the first of their previous seven contests back in 2012 Sanada had endured six straight losses against Gerard, including in the last 16 of the Sydney International in 2014. However, on this occasion Sanada dominated the closing stages to beat the Belgian eighth seed 64 62 61.

Sanada was one of three Japanese players to win through to face seeded opponents towards the end of the first day of play. But Kouhei Suzuki slipped to a 61 60 loss to Gustavo Fernandez as the world No.1 began 2018 in style and Yoshinobu Fujimoto bowed out to fourth seed Gordon Reid 60 61.

Sanada and seventh seed Shingo Kunieda take Japanese hopes into the last eight, where the bottom half of the draw could see a rematch of last year’s all-British semifinal between Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid.

Hewett joined Kunieda in ending the home Australian challenge in the men’s singles as they beat Ben Weekes and Adam Kellerman respectively. Hewett’s 64 61 win over Weekes lines him up for a quarterfinal against sixth seed Stefan Olsson as last year’s Roland Garros champion prepares to face last year’s Wimbledon champion.

Reid emulated Olsson in opening 2018 with a 60 61 victory and the world No. 4 next plays reigning Sydney International champion Nicolas Peifer in the quarterfinals after the French world No. 5 began his title defence with a 61 64 win over South Africa’s Evans Maripa.

Two 61 60 wins for Fernandez and world No. 3 Stephane Houdet mean they play Kunieda and Sanada in the two quarterfinals at the top of the draw.

Montjane and van Koot edge to opening women’s singles wins

Diede de Groot, Sabine Ellerbrock and Marjolein Buis all started 2018 with perfect records as the women’s singles began, while Kgothatso Montjane and Aniek van Koot both survived difficult encounters against Chinese opponents.

After ending 2017 as NEC Masters champion, world No. 2 de Groot joined fellow Dutchwoman Buis in starting the new season with 60 60 wins against Japanese opponents, de Groot beating Saki Takamuro and Buis easing her way past Yumiko Inoue. Ellerbrock, meanwhile, ended the sole Australian challenge in the women’s singles, defeating Janine Watson 60 60.

The quarterfinals later this week will feature one all-Dutch contest and one all-German match-up as world No. 4 Buis faces van Koot, while world No. 3 Ellerbrock will play Katharina Kruger.  

Van Koot came through arguably the closest women’s match of the day, eventually overcoming Chinese 19-year-old Ziying Wang 76(3) 64. While the China, P.R. women’s players could have been expected to pose problems for the seeded players based on their country’s victory over Netherlands at the 2017 BNP Paribas World Team Cup, in the event none of the three Chinese entrants in the women’s singles will feature in the quarterfinals after seventh seed Montjane held off Zhenzhen Zhu and world No. 1 Yui Kamiji raced past Hui Min Huang 61 60 in what was Huang’s second match of the day.

Montjane’s 64 75 win over Zhu means there will be no rematch of last May’s World Team Cup final singles rubber between Zhu and de Groot and, instead, Montjane will now bid to beat de Groot for the first time in four matches.

World No. 8 Kruger will line up against Ellerbrock for the 25th time in UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour competition after defeating Japan’s Mie Fukazawa 61 64.

In the other women’s quarterfinal at the top of the draw Kamiji will face her doubles partner Lucy Shuker in what will be Shuker’s second straight match against a Japanese opponent. The world No.6 began 2018 with a 60 63 win over Manami Tanaka.

Following Wednesday’s first two quad singles matches, the singles quarterfinals take place later in the week, with Wednesday’s second day of play largely devoted to doubles and consolation matches.

2018 Sydney International Wheelchair Tennis Open Draws