Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane is hungry and driven to face Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands in the women’s singles quarter-finals of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium on Thursday. As soon as the world number nine trounced Viktoria Lvova from Russia in straight sets 6-1 6-3 in the second round, Montjane declared herself ready to take on Buis, who defeated her for the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open title on Sunday. Montjane says: ‘It’s not an easy thing to admit, but I was not in that final match on Sunday. I played some of the best tennis leading up to that final, but then my true form didn’t show up. I fought back in both sets, but when you look at the statistics, you could see I lost the match on unforced errors. I think I was too negative, unfocussed and impatient. You can’t challenge someone like Marjolein like that. She moves very well and she has great mobility. She is very strong mentally and all those things make her a dangerous opponent. You have to be very sharp, patient and focussed when you play her and I was none of those things on Sunday. But I am in a very positive frame of mind after taking a day off on Monday to see the physiotherapist. I’m feeling very strong physically and mentally. I’m ready for the fight.’
It was smooth sailing for the rest of the seeds on day two of the Super Series event. Dutch first seed Jiske Griffioen downed Miho Nijo from Japan 6-1 6-1, second seed Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany defeated Thando Hlatshwayo 6-0 6-1 and Buis, seeded third, whipped Nokwanda Hlongwane 6-0 6-0. Germany’s Katherina Kruger (4), Francisca Mardones (6) from Chile, Charlotte Famin (7) from France and American Kaitlyn Verfuerth also advanced to the quarter-finals. Lucas Sithole was the only South African left standing in the quads singles after compatriots Bongani Dlamini and Stephen Kekai crashed on Wednesday.
The world number three easily disposed of unseeded Frenchman Stephane Erishman 6-1 6-1 and Sithole has a game plan for his quarterfinal clash against Itay Erenlib from Israel, who defeated eighth seeded Dlamini 6-2 6-4. Sithole says: ‘I’ve never played him, but I watched Itay’s match against Bongani. I have a good strategy. He likes to stay on the base line, so I need to force him into the corners. I had a good practise session with Erishman and nice workout in the doubles, so I am ready to battle him.’ Former champion Andy Lapthorne downed unseeded Kekai 6-1 6-0 and the world number three will now face fellow Brit Anthony Cotterill.
Cotterill, the sixth seed defeated Frenchman Virgil Silva in straight sets 6-0 6-0. Lapthorne says: ‘I won this in 2013, so of course I want to get back in the winner’s circle and there are a lot of world ranking points on offer this week. It’s always tough when you have to play your room-mate and doubles partner, but we’ve had to do this before.’ World number one and defending champion David Wagner, Englishman Jamie Burdekin and American Greg Hasterok – seeded fourth and fifth respectively – also advanced. Frenchman Stephane Houdet pulled through a tough two-setter to keep his bid for a third successive men’s singles title on track.
The top seed beat the unseeded Spaniard Daniel Caverzachi 6-4 6-4. Houdet will face eighth seed Stefan Olsson from Sweden in the quarter-final. Meanwhile Dutchman Tom Egberink proved too experienced for South Africa’s Leon Els and the seventh seed won the match 6-1 6-1.
Egberink will go up against fourth seed Nicolas Peifer from France, while reigning Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open champion Joachim Gerard from Belgium (3), second seed Gustavo Fernandez from Argentina, Dutchman Maikel Scheffers (5) and Takashi Sanada from Japan (6) all advanced to join the quarter-final action on Thursday.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott