South African wheelchair tennis champion and world number four Lucas Sithole battled back from a set and 4-1 down to defeat world number three Brit’s Andy Lapthorne to secure his second British Open quads singles title at Nottingham, Great Britain on Saturday. The fourth-seeded South African was the first African wheelchair tennis player to have ever clinched the title in 2013, and went to Britain to reclaim it. World Number 3 Lapthorne led Sithole by a set and 4-1 before Sithole fought back, winning 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 to regain the British Open title. The 28-year old world number four looked some way short of form but found an extra gear when he claimed the only break in the second set, with his Britain opponent putting a forehand into the net.
The SA star kept his composure to wrap up the victory in three hours. The two-time British Open champion Sithole dispatched Lapthorne in the semi-final round of the SA Open early this year before he demolished David Wagner for his first Super Series title of the year. The British Open is now Sithole’s second Super Series victory in 2015. Sithole says: ‘The wind was really disturbing in the first set, but then I knew what I had to do in the second set. I just changed tactics and moved in to take time away from my opponent. Despite losing the first set I had confidence that I could win because the way I have played all week was fantastic. This week I played my best tennis ever. The guys pushed me to play at my highest limit. I am so excited and words cannot express my joy for this great win. I defeated Lapthorne in three sets at home in April this year and I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy battle but I told myself I will fight to the end.’
Sithole eliminated former world number one David Wagner in the semi-final round on Friday. The giant-killer stunned Wagner 7-5, 6-1 to advance to the finals. In the men’s division, the country’s top ranked player Evans Maripa exited in the first round. Maripa was knocked out by Netherlands’ Tom Egberink 6-4, 5-7, 3-6 but went on to win the consolation singles event. Meanwhile, eighth-seeded Mzansi’s Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane was bundled out in the women’s quarterfinal round by third seed Aniek Van Koot also from the Netherlands 6-2, 6-2.
Montjane and doubles partner Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany were runner-ups in the women’s doubles after they went down 3-6, 0-6 against second seeds Aniek van Koot and Jiske Griffieon in the final on Sunday. Evans Maripa and KG Montjane will now move onto Geneva, Switzerland for the ITF 1 tournament, the Swiss Open from 21 – 26 July.
Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images