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Montjane mounts great fightback to down top seed
- Updated: April 12, 2013
While world number seven Lucas Sithole reserved his berth in the quads singles semi-final at the ACSA SA Open, world number seven KG Montjane had to fight back from a set and 3-0 down to upset first seed Jiske Griffioen from the Netherlands in their women’s singles semi-final at Ellis Park on Thursday.
Montjane had to pull out all the stops to beat the world No3 2-6 7-5 6-0 in a gripping three-setter on centre court to reach her first Super Series final on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
The pair went head-to-head at the Airports Company South Africa Gauteng Open final in Benoni on Sunday, with the South African defending her title by beating Griffioen in straight sets.
But four days later, Griffioen took charge when she broke Montjane’s in the fifth game of the opening set and took the next four games to close out the first set 6-2.
Although Montjane is known as a slow starter, the expected second set comeback did not materialise as the Dutch player took a 3-0 lead with a break of serve.┬áBoth players broke each other for the next three games, but the South African found herself with her back to the wall as she lost her serve once again in the seventh game to go 5-2 down.
Suddenly Montjane’s fighting spirit and strong service game took fire. She broke Griffioen in the eighth game and won the next five games on the trot to seal a 7-5 win.
ÔÇ£The first set was nerve-wracking because I made a lot of unforced errors and my first serve just wouldn’t work,ÔÇØ Montjane said. ÔÇ£I was frustrated but I tried to stay patient and focus on coming back in the second set.
ÔÇ£I started hitting it better, but I still couldn’t get a good rhythm going. I realised I was in big trouble when I was 5-2 down, so I regrouped and got aggressive. It was unreal to win five games in a row to win the second set. It’s the first time I’ve been able to come back like that against a top player and I take a lot of confidence out of that set.ÔÇØ
Montjane got her service game and effective return of serves working in the final set and she broke a clearly frustrated Griffioen in the second, fourth and sixth games to win the set 6-0.
ÔÇ£I knew I could win after I took the second set, because I could see I was getting to her,ÔÇØ the 26-year-old Limpopo player explained. ÔÇ£She got upset with herself, her first serve started collapsing and she was making a lot of unforced errors.
ÔÇ£It was like I could see how she was falling apart and I just kept piling on the pressure. I’ve beaten the world number three twice in a week; that’s a pretty good feeling.ÔÇØ
Montjane said the real work still lies ahead against Marjolein Buis, the second seed and world No4 from the Netherlands beat her in last year’s semi-final.
Buis defeated Britain’s Lucy Shuker 6-4 6-4 to reach her second successive final.
ÔÇ£Marjolein is my toughest opponent,ÔÇØ Montjane admitted. ÔÇ£I’ve played her five, six times and I’ve never beaten her. That could all change on Sunday, because I have a lot of belief now and I know I can win if I stay patient.ÔÇØ
Sithole, who was knocked out in last year’s semi-final, is confident going into battle with world number one David Wagner from the United States in the quarterfinals on Friday.
ÔÇ£On paper, he is the clear favourite because we’ve played twice and he beat me both times,ÔÇØ the triple amputee from KwaZulu-Natal said after beating Antony Cotterill from Britain in straight sets 6-0 6-1. ÔÇ£The second time we met it was a pretty close match and I think I’ve gained enough experience to give him a hard time. He doesn’t like to move a lot, so I’ll be working his frustrations by hitting it all over the court.ÔÇØ
The ACSA Gauteng Open Quads Singles title holder said he doesn’t know what to expect from his match against the South African.
ÔÇ£Lucas is very unpredictable and he is a fighter,ÔÇØ said Wagner, who knocked out Britain’s Adam Field in straight sets 6-0 6-1. ÔÇ£I haven’t had any long matches, but I have a feeling the one against Lucas could be a long and tough battle. Anything can happen on the day; all I can do is give it my best shot.ÔÇØ
The other quads single semi-finalists include second seed Andy Lapthorne from Britain, who defeated sixth seed Sarah Hunter from Canada 2-6 6-0 6-0 and American seventh seed, Greg Hasterok, who knocked out unseeded Harry Prabhu from India 6-1 6-4.
World number one and last week’s ACSA Gauteng winner Shingo Kunieda from Japan led the way in the Men’s Singles quarterfinals with a 6-2 6-2 result over sixth seed Nicolas Peifer from France.
The other top seeds to advance to Friday’s semi-finals┬áinclude third seed Gustavo Fernandez from Argentina, who defeated eighth seed Takuya Miki from Japan 7-6 (9) 6-2, fourth seed Gordon Reid from Britain, who knocked out seventh seed Frederic Cattaneo from France 6-4 6-4, as well as Frenchman Stephane Houdet, who emerged victorious in another humdinger against his compatriot Michael Jeremiasz.
Second seed Houdet lost the first set 6-7 (5), but defeated the fifth seeded Jemeriasz 7-6 (1) 7-6 (1) in the second and final sets.