South Africa’s top ranked Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane and Lucas Sithole remain on course for repeat success after both players came through the third day of the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open with flying colours on Friday. Sithole, the world number four and South Africa’s number one ranked quad singles player, met with little resistance from fourth-seed Anthony Cotterill and comfortably beat the Brit 6-0 6-3 to make Sunday’s final. The South African will play defending champion David Wagner, who didn’t have to hit a single shot to reach the final after fellow American Greg Hasterok from America withdrew with a forearm injury.
Sithole is geared up for his 27th head-to-head clash with the world number one. Sithole says: ‘I beat David for the US Open title in 2013, so I’m definitely not intimidated by him. I was a little rusty coming into the tournament, but the match against Anthony today went exactly to plan. I feel fit and well prepared for Sunday.’ Montjane was 5-3 down in the first set but mounted a fabulous comeback in her women’s singles quarter-final against Kaitlyn Verfuerth to defeat the American 7-6(4) 6-0.
Montjane says: ‘Kaitlyn dominated the first set because I played too defensively, but I dug in and I turned things around. I got really aggressive in the second set and didn’t give her a chance to play to her strengths. That’s exactly how I plan to play on Saturday.’ Montjane will go up against defending champion and first seed Sabine Ellerbrock from Germany ,who defeated fifth seed Francisca Mardones from Chile 6-4 6-3. The South African won the prestigious ITF1 UNQLO International Wheelchair Tour event in 2012 and 2013, but was beaten by Ellerbrock in the final last year.
In fact, the pair have gone head-to-head 13 times and the German has beaten Montjane in six quarter-finals, five semi-finals and in the final round of the 2011 Airports Company South Africa SA Open. Just two weeks ago, Ellerbrock ousted Montjane in the Cajun Open quarter-final, but the world number nine does not see herself as the underdog. Montjane believes she is fitter, sharper and mentally much stronger and she is fired up for the match.
Montjane says: ‘I know exactly where I went wrong against Sabine in America. I was struggling with my serve and I left a lot of shots short. She nailed me on it, but my serve is working well and I am really focused. This time around, I am ready for her. I need to win the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open to boost my world ranking points and that is really motivating me to push myself even harder.’ Second seed Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands beat eighth seed Miho Nijo 7-5 6-2 and will meet sixth seed Charlotte Famin, who caused the first upset of the event when she toppled Germany’s Katherina Kruger in three sets 6-7(4), 6-0 6-4. Doubles partners Stephane Houdet from France and Joachim Gerard from Belgium will put their friendship aside when they battle it out in the first Mens Singles semi-final.
Houdet, the number one seed and defending champion, defeated sixth seed Takashi Sanada from Japan 4-6 6-4 6-1, while Gerard dispatched eighth-seed Stefan Olsson from Sweden 6-3 6-3. Frenchman Nicolas Peifer, seeded fourth, will meet second seed Gustavo Fernandez from Argentina in the second semi-final. Peifer advanced when he defeated seventh-seed Tom Egberink from the Netherlands 6-3 6-4, while Fernandez bounced back from a 5-7 loss in the first set to beat the fifth seed 6-2 6-2.
The womens singles semi-finals start at 09:00, followed by the men’s singles finals.
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