Montjane, Sithole through to Open semi-finals | SASCOC - SASCOC

Montjane, Sithole through to Open semi-finals

World number one, Shingo Kunieda from Japan, remains on course for his first victory on South African soil while defending champions KG Montjane and Lucas Sithole strengthened their title bids in the quarter-finals of the ACSA Gauteng Open in Benoni on Friday.

Kunieda disposed of fifth seed Nicolas Peifer of France 6-1 6-1 and Gordon Reid, seeded three of Great Britain defeated Japan’s Miki Takuya seeded seven 6-0 6-2 to set up a semi-final clash in the ITF Grade 1 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour event at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre on Saturday.

The match promises to be one of the toughest in this year’s tournament as the Japanese three-time Paralympic gold player has dropped only six games while Reid has lost just four on their way to the final four.

Kunieda, who beat Reid on his way to claiming the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Belgium and the British Open titles last year, knows he is in for a tough fight.

ÔÇ£I expect a very tight match┬á because Gordon is a tough opponent,ÔÇØ said Kunieda. ÔÇ£Our matches are always tightly contested, because we are both very competitive. We will fight each other for every point and the winner will come down to the player who wants it the most.ÔÇØ

Argentine world number four and second seed Gustavo Fernandez knocked out sixth seeded Frenchman Frederic Cattaneo 6-1 6-3 and will go head-to-head with Michael Jeremiasz of France in the other men’s semi-final. Jeremiasz beat Japan’s Yoshinobu Fujimoto 6-1 6-0.

In the women’s singles, third seeded Montjane ensured her semi-final spot with a 6-0 6-3 over compatriot Rose van den Meer and remains on course for a final round clash with world number three and tournament favourite, Jiske Griffioen.

After two relatively unchallenging matches, the Limpopo tennis ace said she is wary of her semi-final opponent, fifth seed Jordanne Whiley from Great Britain, who shocked the second seed Lucy Shuker of Germany in straight sets 7-5 6-0.

ÔÇ£I haven’t played Jordanne in a couple of years, but she has made a lot of progress,ÔÇØ Montjane said. ÔÇ£She looks to be in great form and has developed into a powerful hitter.

“Shuker is very strong, but Whiley dominated the second set completely. But I’m happy with my preparation, though.

ÔÇ£I’m ready for a tough match. Bring it on.ÔÇØ

Dutch champions Griffioen, who beat Christine Schoen of France 6-1 6-0, used the first two matches to fine tune aspects of her game and said she is excited to face some tougher opposition.

ÔÇ£The two matches were pretty slow, so I worked on my top spin backhand that I don’t use too often in the match against Nomo-Afrika Gxumisa on Thursday and against Christine, I conserved my energy and just worked on my first serve percentage,ÔÇØ Griffioen said.

ÔÇ£As the tournament progresses, you start playing the higher seeds. The matches get tougher, so you need to sharpen your game.ÔÇØ
The Dutch player will meet fourth seed Katharina Kruger from Germany, who knocked out South Africa’s Mabel Mankgele 6-2 6-2.

South African number one Sithole will be looking for his first victory over world number three Andy Lapthorne when the doubles pair go head-to-head in the Quads Singles semi-final.

The British player has won all their previous encounters, but Lapthorne needed three sets to dispose of 14th ranked American Greg Hasterok 5-7 6-2 6-4. This could bode well for Sithole, who eliminated Bongani Dlamini in straight sets 6-1 6-0.

In the opposite semi-final, world number one David Wagner downed Queen Nhlapho to set up a clash with former rival Sarah Hunter.

Wagner expects a real battle against the Canadian, who announced her long awaited comeback from injury with victory at the Pensacola Open in the US last month.

ÔÇ£Sarah was off for nearly a year with a shoulder injury, but came back too quickly and that cost her another nine month layoff,ÔÇØ he said.

ÔÇ£She has been making her comeback and she showed in March that she is getting back to top form. If she hits her stride in the semis, we are in for a mammoth battle.ÔÇØ