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Sithole stays on course but Montjane ousted at SA Open
- Updated: April 8, 2016
South Africa’s Lucas Sithole remains on course in his title defence, but compatriot Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane was among the casualties as several seeds fell on Thursday’s quarter-final day in the SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg.
Sithole set up a date with world number one Dylan Alcott from Australia in the semi-finals, but he needed three sets to see off sixth seed Jamie Burdekin from Britain on Thursday. The world No3 won the first set rather comfortably, but the Brit forced him onto the back foot when he won the second.
‘I haven’t played Jamie since the Nottingham tournament in November,’ said Sithole after his 6-1 3-6 6-1 victory. ‘He moved quite a bit more and hit some great winners. It threw me, but I regrouped after the second set. I stuck to the game plan, I hit my targets and set up short shots and it got me the win. The match against Dylan will be similar, because he is also fast and likes to move, but I’m ready.’
Alcott from Australia defeated Israeli Shraga Weinberg 6-0 6-3, while former champion David Wagner defeated seventh seed Antony Cotterill from Britain 6-1 6-1. The American will go up against another Brit, world number three Andy Lapthorne, who eliminated fifth seed Itay Erenlib from Israel 6-3 6-3.
Montjane’s title bid perished under a strong assault from world No1 and defending champion Jiske Griffioen.
‘KG fought incredibly hard and the match was a lot tighter than the results suggest,’ said the Dutch player after winning in straight sets 6-1 6-1. ‘KG put a lot of pressure on me and I had to switch to high gear to pull it through.’
Despite the loss, Montjane was upbeat about some of the aspects of the match. ‘Like I have been saying, I’m working on some aspects of my game,’ Montjane said. ‘I knew it would be a really tough match, but I took a lot of confidence out of the match because it was tight. Almost every game went to deuce and that is an indication to me that the work I am doing is starting to play off. There were some great positives in the loss to Jiske.
Griffioen will face Britain’s Jordanne Whiley, who defeated doubles partner and compatriot Lucy Shuker in an epic tussle.
Both sets went into extra time and Whiley won the match 7-6 (8) 7-6 (7).
Meanwhile fifth seed Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands surprised world number two Kamiji and Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock eliminated third seed Dutch player Aniek van Koot.
Less than seven days since Kamiji dispatched Buis in the Gauteng Open semi-final, the Dutch player pummelled Kamiji into submission to win 6-2 6-2.
The 2013 champion will face Ellerbrock, whom she defeated in a three-setter for a semi-final spot in last week’s Level 1 International Tennis Federation (ITF) tournament, also sponsored by the Airports Company South Africa.
Ellerbrock – a finalist in 2014 and 2015 – was 4-2 down to Van Koot but showed huge resolve to fight back and win the first set in a tie-break 7-6(6). The world number six fended off a spirited challenge from Van Koot to take the second set 6-4.
Olsson expels Australian Open champion
The men’s singles quarter-finals also produced an upset when fourth seed Gordon Reid was handed his walking papers by world number seven Stefan Olsson.
The Swede lost the ABN AMRO tournament to the Brit in a tightly-fought final in February, then failed to beat the reigning Australian Open champion in the quarter-final of the Pensacola Open and semi-final of the Cajun Open in March.
However, Olsson had his day in South Africa. ‘I wouldn’t call it a grudge match, but I have been edging closer and closer and it’s nice to finally get the job done,’ said Olsson after his 6-4 6-3 victory.
Olsson’s next victim could be hard to eliminate, though.
A former SA Open winner and reigning Gauteng Open champion, world number one Stephane Houdet has been in commanding form. The Frenchman defeated sixth seed Maikel Scheffers from Germany 6-4 6-2 and has dropped just seven games in the tournament to date.
‘Stephane will be tough to beat, for sure,’ Olsson said. ‘I’ve never won a Super Series tournament, but this performance against Gordon has given me a lot of confidence. If I bring my best tennis to the match against Stephane, anything is possible.’
Defending champion Nicolas Peifer from France disposed of eight seed Adam Kellerman from Australia in straight sets 6-0 6-4 and will face off against world number four Joachim Gerard from Belgium, who saw off seventh seed Takashi Sanada from Japan 6-0 6-2.
Picture of Sithole in Thursday’s action courtesy of Reg Caldecott