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Sithole through to quarters as US opponent retires

BENONI, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 31: Lucas Sithole, the third seed of the South Africa in action against Bryan Barten (USA) in the quads singles during day 2 of the ACSA Gauteng Wheelchair Tennis Open at Gauteng East Tennis Centre on March 31, 2016 in Benoni, South Africa. (Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images)

There were no real surprises in the first round as the top seeds easily cruised into the quads singles quarter-finals of the Gauteng Open at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex in Benoni on Thursday.
Things went pretty much to plan for world number one Dylan Alcott from Australia, who claimed a straight sets victory 6-1-6-1 over local player Danny Mohlamonyane in his debut on South African soil. Second seed and three-time defending champion David Wagner from the United States dispatched Hiam Lev from Israel 6-3 6-1, while fourth seed Ymanitu Silva from Brazil met with little opposition from South Africa’s Bongani Dlamini to win 6-1 6-1.
But Lucas Sithole was left wanting more after American Bryan Barten handed him victory in the second set as he retired.
The world number three is due to meet Wagner in the semi-finals on Saturday. The American beat Sithole in the last two editions of the Level 1 International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament, sponsored by the Airports Company South Africa, and Sithole was relishing the opener against the world number 14 to prepare for the pending showdown.
‘I was happy to play Bryan in the first round, because he plays a lot like David,’ said Sithole, who took the first set 6-0. ‘I was 3-0 up when Brian retired. I was a little disappointed when he called it a day, but I had enough time on the court to at least get my rhythm and pace going nicely. I was able to work on my big shots and my serve and I’m pretty happy with how my game is shaping up.’
World No25 Takahiro Koga needed three sets to get past Ronewa Mudzanani and eventually took the match 4-6 6-0 7-5 (4). Sithole is looking forward to packing in more quality practice when he takes on the Japanese player on Friday.
‘Koga likes to come forward, so he will also be a good preparation for the semi-final,’ Sithole said.
Alcott watched Sithole in action against Barten and believes he has the ammunition to win this week.
‘Lucas is serving incredibly well,’ said the Australian first seed. ‘He hits the ball hard and is moving really well and those are huge benefits. And being used to competing at this altitude also counts in his favour. Wagner is tough and you have to be on your game, but Lucas is in great form. I think it’s going to be very tight contest between those two.’
It took the Australian a few days to adjust to the conditions, but he feels good ahead about his chances, too.
‘Luckily I’m not on the tough side of the draw, so I have a bit more time to adjust,’ Alcott joked. ‘I’m quite fit and I couldn’t believe how quickly I tired when I first arrived. I was hitting the ball rubbish the first two days in practice, but I’ve managed to adjust to the flight of the ball. The match against Danny was great, because he has a lethal forearm. I’m looking forward to playing Queen, as well.
‘It’s nice to get the chance to get to know the local players before you get the business end of the tournament.’
Nhlapo beat Lucky Kgwedi 6-2 6-0 to advance, while Australia’s Heath Davidson and American Greg Hasterok also made the quarter-finals of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour event.
Davidson defeated Jeffery Yates from South Africa 6-0 6-0 and Hasterok triumphed 6-0 6-1 against local player Nkosanye Nkosi.

QUADS’ SINGLES RESULTS (SA unless stated)
1 Dylan Alcott (AUS) bt Danny Mohlamonyane 6-1 6-1
2 David Wagner bt (USA) Haim Lev (ISR) 6-3 6-1
3 Lucas Sithole bt Bryan Barten (USA) 6-0 6-0
4 Ymanitu Silva (BRA) bt Bongani Dlamini 6-1 6-1
Queen Nlapo bt Lucky Kgwedi 6-2 6-0
Greg Hasterok (USA) bt Nkosanye Nkosi 6-0 6-0
Heath Davidson (AUS) bt Jeffery Yates 6-0 6-0
Takahiro Koga (JPN) bt Ronewa Mudzanani 4-6 6-0 7-5
BENONI, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 31: Kgothatso Montjane,the seventh seed of South Africa in action against Lola Ochoa (ESP) in the women's singles during day 2 of the ACSA Gauteng Wheelchair Tennis Open at Gauteng East Tennis Centre on March 31, 2016 in Benoni, South Africa. (Photo by Reg Caldecott/Gallo Images)

Meanwhile South Africa’s Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane, above, cruised into the women’s singles quarter-finals in the Gauteng Open as world number four Joachim Gerard crushed South Africa’s remaining hope in the men’s singles.
Montjane allowed herself a small smile after she ousted Lola Ochoa from Spain 6-2 6-1 at the Gauteng East Tennis Complex.
‘It’s only the first match, but a win is something to build on,’ said the world number eight.
‘Lola is a former top 10 player, so I didn’t take anything for granted. Playing her definitely helped me to raise my game. It felt really good to hit some winners and I’m ready for the quarters.’
Montjane will face Yui Kamiji, who was in commanding form against South Africa’s Mariska Venter.
The world number two from Japan didn’t drop a single point in her debut on South African soil and marched to a clean sweep in the Level 1 International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament, sponsored by the Airports Company South Africa.
Kamiji leads Montjane 8 – 4 in previous encounters, but the South African came up trumps in their most recent tussle – the quarter-finals at the Melbourne Open.
‘I feel up to the task,’ said the 29-year-old from Limpopo. ‘It will be a tough match with long rallies and big shots, but I’ll take it game for game. I put too much pressure on myself in the past to win at home and it worked against me.
‘My approach this year is different and this week is all about working on my game. I’ll be happy if I win, but if I don’t I can live with the loss. My focus is to peak for the Paralympics, so win or lose, I’m dialling down the expectations.’
World number one Jiske Griffioen dispatched Russia’s Ludmilla Bubnova 6-2 6-2 and the Dutch player will face world number seven Lucy Shuker from Great Britain.
Compatriots Majolein Buis – the defending champion – and Aniek van Koot also advanced.
Buis beat Angelica Bernal from Colombia 6-3 4-6 6-0, while world number three Van Koot lost the first set against Charlotte Famin 4-6, but won the next two to take the match 7-6(3) and 7-6 (3).
World number one Stephane Houdet won 6-1 6-1 to advance to the men’s singles quarter-finals and defending champion Gerard also moved another step closer to the final after he slayed South Africa’s Leon Els 6-1 6-0.
The world number four will meet Daniel Rodrigues from Brazil, who claimed the first big scalp in the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour event when he beat seventh seed Takuya Miki from Japan 6-2 4-6 6-3.
Alfie Hewett from Great Britain provided the second shockwave when he defeated the man who ended Evans Maripa’s campaign. Hewett handed fourth seed Stefan Olsson a 6-4 6-2 drubbing to book his spot in the quarter-finals against eighth seed Frederic Cattaneo.

Pictures of Sithole and Montjane courtesy of Reg Caldecott

WOMEN AND MEN’S SINGLES RESULTS:
(SA unless stated)
Women
1 Jiske Griffioen (NED) bt Ludmila Bubnova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
2 Yui Kamiji (JPN) bt Mariska Venter 6-0 6-0
3 Aniek Van Koot (NED) bt Charlotte Famin (FRA) 4-6 7-6(3) 7-6(3)
4 Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) bt Lucyna Meitrkiewicz (POL) 6-0 6-0
5 Marjolein Buis (NED) bt Angelica Berna l(COL) 6-3 4-6 6-0
6 Lucy Shuker (GBR) bt Dana Mathewson (USA) 6-2 6-1
7 Kgothatso Montjane bt Lola Ochoa (ESP) 6-2 6-1
8 Katharina Kruger (GER) bt Francisca Mardones (CHI) 2-6 6-2 6-4

Men
1 Stephane Houdet (FRA) bt Ricky Molier (NED) 6-1 6-1
2 Nicolas Peifer (FRA) bt Donald Ramphadi w/o
3 Joachim Gerard (BEL) bt Leon Els 6-1 6-0
5 Takashi Sanada (JPN) bt Thato Tsomole 6-2 6-2
6 Adam Kellerman (AUS) bt Mzwanele Thentsi 6-0 6-1
8 Frederic Cattaneo (FRA) bt Boukartacha Lhaj (MAR) 6-2 6-2
Alfie Hewett (GBR) bt 4 Stefan Olsson (SWE) 6-4 6-2
Daniel Rodrigues (BRA) bt 7 Takuya Miki (JPN) 6-2 4-6 6-3


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