19 Jan 2018

Melbourne Open ITF 1 Series finalists decided

News Article

Photo: Tim BrassilYui Kamiji (JPN)

Gustavo Fernandez and Yui Kamiji remain on course in their men’s and women’s singles title defences going into the last day of the ITF 1 Melbourne Open, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour. Saturday’s final day will see top seed David Wagner face second seed Lucas Sithole in the quad singles final.

Kamiji faces Aniek van Koot in the women’s singles final for the second successive year at Hume Tennis and Community and for the second straight week on the Australian Wheelchair Tennis Summer Series.

Kamiji began 2018 with victory at least week’s Sydney International Open Super Series, where she beat van Koot in three sets in the final. The Japanese top seed made it six straight singles wins so far this year when she swept past world No. 7 Kgothatso Montjane 61 61 in this week’s semifinals.

Van Koot survived another tough challenge for the second week in a row from unseeded Chinese 19-year-old Ziying Wang. With Wang having already put out world No. 2 Diede de Groot, she made it three sets in a row against Dutch opposition before world No. 3 van Koot fought back to seal their semifinal 26 62 64.

Fernandez to meet Houdet for men’s singles title

After both going out of last week’s Sydney International Open in the men’s singles quarterfinals Fernandez and Stephane Houdet will go head-to-head in this week’s ITF 1 final.

Due to Thursday’s extreme heat in Melbourne the only singles matches on the third day’s schedule were the men’s singles quarterfinals, with Fernandez and Houdet two of three player to drop their opening sets 6-3 before recovering to reach Friday’s last four, which featured all four of last season’s Grand Slam champions.

World No. 1 and reigning Australian Open champion Fernandez followed up his 36 64 75 victory over Joachim Gerard by beating reigning Wimbledon champion Stefan Olsson 61 75.

With Olsson having ended Gordon Reid’s bid to reach the Melbourne Open final for the second successive year with a 64 64 win in their last eight meeting, Houdet ended Sydney International champion Shingo Kunieda’s hopes of starting 2018 with back-to-back titles after winning their 51st career meeting 36 64 62.

Houdet subsequently removed any prospect of Fernandez facing a British opponent again in this year’s final. Having endured his only career loss to Alfie Hewett at last month’s 2017 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters, third seed Houdet dominated much of their first head-to-head of 2018, beating world No. 2 Hewett 63 61 to take his tally of wins over the 20-year-old into double figures.  

Wagner to meet Sithole for quad title

World No. 1 David Wagner beat Heath Davidson in a quad singles semifinal for the second straight week as the USA top seed set up a final against his doubles partner Lucas Sithole.

Wagner started slowly against world No. 5 Davidson as his prospects of back-to-back straight sets wins over the Australian soon faded. However, Wagner regrouped and took a commanding 5-0 second set lead on his way to forcing the decider.

The momentum looked to have shifted again at the start of the final set, but a sequence of five games in succession again put Wagner in command. He had a match point at 5-3 before eventually sealing the victory 16 62 64.

Sithole’s first career match against Chinse Taipei’s Chu-Yin Huang proved to be a much more straightforward proposition as the South African eased to a 62 61 win to reach his first singles final since facing Wagner at last September’s French Riviera Open.

Seeds exit in doubles semis

Saturday’s doubles finals will be without one of the top two seeded partnerships in each of the men’s, women’s and quad doubles.

With Japan’s Shota Kawano and Koji Sugeno having knocked out second seeds Antony Cotterill and Davidson in a thrilling quad doubles semifinal on Thursday, Friday’s schedule brought the departure of men’s doubles top seeds Hewett and Gordon Reid and women’s doubles second seeds Kgothatso Montjane and Lucy Shuker.

Kawano and Sugeno face top seeds Sithole and Wagner in the quad doubles final after the Japanese pairing’s 61 26 (11-9) victory over Cotterill and Davidson. Sithole and Wagner were 60 60 winners over India’s Harry Boniface Prabhu and Huang.

Third seeds Gerard and Olsson beat Hewett and Reid for the first time since 2015 to reach the men’s doubles final. After losing out to Hewett and Reid at November’s UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters and then again in the last four of last week’s Sydney International, Gerard and Olsson claimed their latest match-up 62 63.

They play top seeds Houdet and Peifer in the final as France’s reigning Paralympic champions continue their efforts to add a second title this season and to go into the Australian Open on a high. Last week’s champions in Sydney, Houdet and Peifer won their latest semifinal with little trouble, beating South Africa’s Evans Maripa and Australia’s Ben Weekes, the fourth seeds, 60 63.

Hui Min Huang and Zhenzen Zhu of China, P.R. women’s doubles finalists at the Melbourne Open in 2016, will hope to go one better than they did two years ago after ending the title aspirations of second seeds Montjane and Shuker 67(8) 64 (10-3) in a fascinating semifinal.

The Chinese pairing take on Dutch top seeds Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot in the final, Buis and van Koot having beaten Germany’s Katharina Kruger and Japan’s Manami Tanaka 62 62.