16 Jan 2018

Shuker denies third seed Buis in Melbourne


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Photo: SMP ImagesLucy Shuker (GBR)

With a week to go until the start of the Australian Open, world No.6 Lucy Shuker cut short third seed Marjolein Buis’s singles challenge in the last tournament before the first Grand Slam of 2018 when the Briton moved onto the women’s quarterfinals at the Melbourne Open, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tour.

Since 2014 Shuker’s matches against world No. 5 Buis in Melbourne have proved fruitful. Her last four career wins over Buis on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour have come in the Victoria state capital.

Last year Shuker won their Australian Open quarterfinal at Melbourne Park in straight sets. Previous to that she had beaten Buis in their Melbourne Open quarterfinals in 2014 and 2015, although the Dutchwoman still leads their career head-to-head 17-10.

On Tuesday at Hume Tennis and Community Centre, north of the city centre, where the Melbourne Open has ITF 1 Series status for the first time this year, Shuker prevailed 46 64 63 to book a quarterfinal against world No. 7 Kgothatso Montjane - another enticing match-up

By comparison, Wednesday’s last eight match will be Shuker and Montane’s first career meeting in Melbourne after Montjane opened her singles challenge by beating Japan’s Saki Takamuro 62 61. Elsewhere, Manami Tanaka ended the Australian challenge in the women’s singles with a confident 60 60 win over Bridie Kean to set up her all-Japanese quarterfinal against world No. 1 Yui Kamiji.

Shuker and Buis’s contest was one of two first round women’s singles matches between Top 10 ranked players, last week’s Sydney International Open finalist and fourth seed Aniek van Koot beating world No. 8 Katharina Kruger in the other. Van Koot next plays Zhenshen Zhu, 75 61 winner over Hui Min Huang in their all-Chinese first round match-up.

China, P. R. will be doubly represented in the quarterfinals after 19-year-old wild card entry Ziying Wang beat Japan’s Kanaka Domori 60 62. Wang’s next opponent is world No. 2 Diede de Groot, who also overcome Japanese opposition, beating Mie Fukazawa 61 60.

Davidson holds off Sugeno after final set tiebreak

Koji Sugeno is one of several Japanese players, including men’s singles world No. 5 Shingo Kunieda, to have risen in this week’s world rankings following last week’s Sydney international Open Super Series. The 36-year-old has moved up five places to quad singles world No. 12 this week in the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Rankings after reaching the last eight in Sydney.

After ending 2017 as quad singles champion at the Prague Cup Czech Indoor and following some fine results in Asia last season, Sugeno’s rich run of form saw him push world No. 5 Heath Davidson all the way in Melbourne. Davidson eventually took the final set tiebreak, his 46 61 76(6) victory setting up a mouth-watering semifinal against world No. 1 David Wagner.

Wagner faced Top 10 opposition in his opening match, but produced a confident performance to beat world No. 7 Antony Cotterill 60 64.

Shota Kawano pushed second seed Lucas Sithole in the first set of their first round match, but Sithole held firm to wrap up a 75 62. The world No. 4 now has a semifinal against Chu-Yin Huang after the Chinese Taipei player’s 60 60 win over India’s Harry Boniface Prabhu.

Oh-Chee and Kellerman boost Australian challenge

With four of five first round matches in the men’s singles featuring Australian players Keegan-Oh-Chee and Adam Kellerman join compatriot Ben Weekes in the last 16. Oh-Chee’s 63 62 win over fellow Australian Martyn Dunn means he will now face world No. 1 Gustavo Fernandez in Melbourne for the second successive year. Fernandez won their 2017 quarterfinal 60 60.

A week away from his latest Australian Open campaign, reigning Australian National champion Kellerman also began well, beating Japan’s Kouhei Suzuki 61 63. Kellerman plays sixth seed Stefan Olsson for a place in the last eight.

Weekes was among the players to have first round byes and the 33-year-old Sydneysider begins his Melbourne quest against Kunieda, who returns to the world’s Top 5 this week for the first time since May 2016 following his Super Series victory at the weekend in Sydney.

Two wins on the day for Australian men’s players were matched by two wins for China, P. R. players, Chao Du beating Haruya Mizukoshi of Japan 60 60 and Shunjiang Dong proving equally proficient in defeating Australian Matthew Leggett 60 62. While Dong plays world No 3 Stephane Houdet next, Du faces world No. 4 Gordon Reid.

The day’s other men’s singles win went to South Africa’s Evans Maripa, who goes on to meet world No. 2 Alfie Hewett after his 62 60 win over Australia’s Henry de Cure.



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