15 Mar 2018

Kawano earns career first as Georgia Open begins


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Photo: Mathilde DusolShota Kawano (JPN)

The quad singles provided the bulk of the drama on Wednesday as the Georgia Open made its debut the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, with Shota Kawano topping a good day for Japan’s quad players at Rome Tennis Centre at Berry College.

After ten successive losses to South Africa’s Lucas Sithole and two previous three-set matches, world No. 23 Kawano finally got the better of the world No. 4 and second seed in the most dramatic of climaxes, edging a final set tiebreak to progress 57 62 76(7).

With Kawano playing USA’s Bryan Barten in the quarterfinals next, Barten’s first round win over Sweden’s Anders Hard was notable for its scoreline in a different way, with the American world No. 8 dominating the first and third sets to earn a 60 57 60 victory.

Two seeds are missing from Thursday’s quad quarterfinal line-up after Brazil’s Ymanitu Silva powered past fourth seed Antony Cotteril 61 61, with Silva set to meet Mitsuteru Moroishi for a place in the semifinals.

Moroishi and Koji Sugeno both wrapped up straight set wins with 6-0 second sets to bolster the Japanese success alongside Kawano’s career-first win over Sithole. Sugeno’s opponent in the last eight is third seed Heath Davidson. Like Silva, Davidson opened his account with a 61 61 win.

While this week’s inaugural Georgia Open marks a new era for USA-based tournaments ahead of next week’s Cajun Classic having Super Series status for the first time, the top of the quad singles draw features a quarterfinal against two of the sport’s most celebrated American players.

Current world No.1 David Wagner takes on former world No.1 Nick Taylor, with the ten-time UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters championship partners guaranteeing that there will be a home player in the quad singles semifinals. Wagner came through a tough first round to beat Canada’s Rob Shaw 64 63, with Taylor earning a 62 61 win over Mika Ishikawa.

Mayara fights back to beat Takamuro

With the quad singles quarterfinal line-up decided, Thursday’s second day of action in Rome will see the completion of the men’s singles and women’s singles last eight.

Eighth seed Angelica Bernal is the only player through to the women’s singles quarterfinals so far after beating American Mackenzie Soldan 61 61. Brazil’s Natalia Mayara will hope to double the South American presence in the last eight when she takes on eighth seed Katharina Kruger.

Mayara opened her campaign with a 36 61 62 victory over Saki Takamuro for her second straight win of the Japanese player in USA tournaments. Mayara also won their consolation final at the US Open USTA Championships Super Series last September. She will now bid to make it back-to-back wins over Kruger after they met in the last 16 of the 2017 Belgian Open.

Two other seeds who face tough opening contests are Charlotte Famin and Lucy Shuker. Seventh seed Famin meets Zhenzhen Zhu of China, P.R., while eighth seed Shuker meets Hui Min Huang after both Chinese players eased through the first round.

Elsewhere, Diede de Groot begins two weeks of tournaments that could end with her becoming world No. 1 for the first time by taking on American Emmy Kaiser. Japan’s Manami Tanaka and Yumiko Inoue play third seed Marjolein Buis and fourth seed Kgothatso Montane, respectively, while Dutch second seed Aniek van Koot opens against Canada’s Maude Jacques.

Three quarterfinal berths remain to be filled in the men’s singles after fourth seed Gordon Reid, fifth seed Nicolas Peifer, sixth seed Takashi Sanada, seventh seed Joachim Gerard and eighth seed Maikel Scheffers all claimed straight sets wins on Wednesday.

Argentinian top seed and 2017 ITF World Champion Gustavo Fernandez faces Chile’s Diego Perez for the right to play Sanada for a place in the semifinals. Japan will have two players in the last eight, with reigning Australian Open champion Shingo Kunieda set to begin his Georgia Open challenge against compatriot Satoshi Saida.

If a third Japanese player is to feature in the men’s quarterfinals, Yoshinobu Fujimoto will have to overcome third seed and Australian Open finalist Stephane Houdet.



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