SITHOLE READY FOR WORLD NO. 1 WAGNER IN ACSA SA OPEN
It's becoming one of the greatest rivalries in wheelchair tennis, and on Saturday another chapter will be written as South Africa's Lucas Sithole and American David Wagner battle it out in the quads final of the Airports Company South Africa SA Open at Ellis Park.
For the second week in succession, the respective world number one and two in their division clash in a final. Last week, in the Gauteng Open, it was world number one Wagner who beat Sithole.
They've now played each other 15 times, with Sithole only winning on four of those occasions. But significantly, all of those four wins were in 2013. Sithole is growing in experience against a man who has dominated this division for over a decade. He beat Wagner in the final of the 2013 US Open, and he beat him in the semi-final of this tournament last year. And their latest encounter will be broadcast live on SuperSport 8 (channel 208) from 09:00 on Saturday 3 May 2014.
"I think this is going to be a really great rivalry for a number of years. They are both going to continue to improve and they're both great competitors. It's anyone's guess what is going to happen," said Sarah Hunter, who Sithole beat 6-3 4-6 7-5 in Friday's semi-final of the SA Open. Wagner was ruthless in his 7-5 6-1 defeat of defending champion Andrew Lapthorne.
It was a tough semi-final for Sithole, but one that he believes has prepared him well for the challenge to come against Wagner. "It was a tough match and I wasn't prepared for it to be that long. Sarah played smart tennis and pushed me out of my comfort zone. But I'm happy with how I stayed focused the whole match," said Sithole, who is aiming to be more aggressive against Wagner this time around.
"Against David I need to play him straight on his chair or move him to his forehand, because he has a very good backhand slice. I also need patience to rally with him, and make him move and work for the point. Then I'll be good."
Sithole is flying the SA flag on Saturday, with Kgothatso Montjane knocked out of the women's singles by world number four Aniek van Koot, who beat her 6-3 6-4. "There will always be that room for disappointment. I'm in a phase where I'm losing to top players ranked above me. But I'm just waiting for that breakthrough," said Montjane.
And the South African appealed to the public to come and support the tournament on Saturday.
"People must come to support the finalists. It's been a great tournament. We have such a lot of talent here. And it's great for Lucas to be in the final. Good luck to him."
The men's singles final will see another tough encounter between French world number two Stephane Houdet and Britain's world number three Gordon Reid.
And the women's singles final also sees a big match between German world number one Sabine Ellerbrock and Van Koot from The Netherlands.
Play will start 09h00 tomorrow at Ellispark Tennis Grounds, with Lucas Sithole vs David Wagner 1st to play on centre court.