South Africans Into SA Open Semi-Finals

The South African challenge is still well on track in the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park, with both Lucas Sithole and Kgothatso Montjane through to Friday’s semi-finals.  But it’s getting tighter at the top.  Sithole needed three sets to get the better of Britain’s Antony Cotterill, eventually beating him 6-4 4-6 6-2.  He now faces Canadian Sarah Hunter in the semi-finals.

“I didn’t play as well as I wanted.  I was tired out there and a bit slow on the court.  But I’m glad the job is done.  I just told myself to keep pushing and moving Antony around the court,” Sithole said.  And Montjane was equally relieved to come through a women’s singles quarterfinals loaded with top seeds as she beat Francesca Mardones 6-2 6-3.  “I was really looking forward to getting through to the semis.  In the quarters it was only the top seeds in action, so it was the toughest part of the draw.  And going forward it’s going to be even tougher.  But I need to keep taking it one match at a time,” said Montjane, who next faces second seed Aniek Van Koot of The Netherlands.

But there were a few close calls on Thursday.  Men’s singles top seed Stephane Houdet had to fight back from a set down to beat Tom Egberinck 3-6 6-1 6-1.  Women’s singles second seed Van Koot also went to three sets in beating Charlotte Famin 6-2 2-6 6-4.  And defending quads champion Andrew Lapthorne needed three sets to beat David Buck 6-0 3-6 6-2.

Quads world number one David Wagner had no trouble getting past Greg Hasterok 6-2 6-0, and faces Lapthorne in the semi-finals.  And women’s singles number one Sabine Ellerbrock was also not tested in her 6-1 6-3 victory over Katherina Kruger.  Fourth seed Burdekin was the biggest name to be knocked out of the quads draw on Thursday when he lost 6-2 6-1 to fifth seed Hunter.  The Brit was struggling with an injury that eventually got the better of him.

“I’m not blaming anything, it’s just a bit of a disappointing tournament for me.  It’s an old injury, but if I’m on the court I’m not even worrying about it.  Sarah won the match and congrats to her,” said Burdekin.  His determination to still compete was praised by Hunter, “Jamie was playing injured so hats off to him for coming onto court and giving it his best effort.”  In the men’s singles, world number three Gordon Reid will be hoping to avenge his quarter-final defeat to France’s Nicolas Peifer in last week’s Gauteng Open when the two meet in the semi-finals this week.

Photo credit: Reg Caldecott