HOUDET OUSTS MARIPA FOR SOLID SA OPEN START
Evans Maripa stumbled at the first hurdle of the SA Open on Tuesday, leaving South Africa’s top ranked Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane, quads defending champion Lucas Sithole and world number 37 Leon Els to carry the load for South Africa in the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour Super Series event at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium this week.
The country’s top ranked men’s singles player was pummelled into submission by world number one Stephane Houdet from France, who seized victory in straight sets 6-0 6-0.
“Evans didn’t give me much, but I think he put too much pressure on himself in front of the home crowd,” Houdet said. “It was a pity because it felt like he wasn’t in the match. He didn’t play to his usual standard and he allowed me to dominate with the serve and fore-arm.”
Some of Houdet’s title rivals caught a glimpse of his lethal weapons in his march to a second victory in the Gauteng Open last week.
Houdet is showing the kind of form that earned him successive SA Open titles in 2013 and 2014.
Having pipped former world number one Shingo Kunieda for the top spot in the men’s rankings at the Australian Open, the Frenchman is determined to reach the finish line in the season’s second Super Series event, sponsored by the Airports Company South Africa.
“It’s going to be tough, because we have seven of the top 10 ranked players in the draw,” he said. “Since I lost in last year’s final, I have points to defend and Shingo didn’t come out to South Africa, so if I can win, I can stretch the gap on Shingo.
“But it won’t be easy. I will face Alfie in the quarter-finals and he showed a lot of promise in Benoni, or Maikel Scheffers, who is a very experienced player. If Gordon Reid and I both reach the semi-finals, it will be a huge fight for the final. But you can’t do anything about what your opponents do.
“Like I told Evans after the match, your behaviour should dictate the score; the score should not dictate your behaviour. The ball doesn’t care what the score is, so why do you care. Focus only on playing each point the best that you can and let the score take care of itself.”
Houdet takes on Paul Stewart from Britain in round two.
Compatriot Nicolas Peifer – the second seed and defending champion – needed three sets to dispatch countryman Frederic Cattaneo 6-2 4-6 6-1 and will face Yoshinobu Fujimoto from Japan.
Third seed Joachim Gerard from Belgium meets unseeded Boukartacha Lhaj from Morocco, while fourth seed Reid from Britain goes up against Daniel Rodrigues from Brazil.
The rest of the seeds joining the men’s singles second round action are fifth seed Stefan Olsson from Sweden, sixth seed Scheffers from the Netherlands, Japanese seventh seed Takashi Sanada and eighth seed Adam Kellerman from Australia.
American Bryan Barten and Rowena Mudzanani went head-to-head for the final spot in the second round of the Quads Singles while the top seeds enjoyed a bye.
Barten beat the South African 6-1 6-0 to book a date with current world number one Dylan Alcott, who claimed his first success on South African soil in the Gauteng Open Quads Final on Sunday.
World number two and 2014 SA Open champion David Wagner faces fellow American Greg Hasterok and South Africa’s Sithole kicks off his title defence against Alcott’s doubles partner and fellow Australian Heath Davidson.
The second round of the women’s singles will see defending champion Jiske Griffioen seeking a solid start to shake off the disappointment of losing the Gauteng Open final. The Dutch player should have no problems getting past world number 38 Macarena Cabrillana from Chile.
Gauteng Open champion and world number two Yui Kamiji from Japan will start second campaign in South Africa against Brazil’s Natalia Mayara.
Francisca Mardones defeated Pauline Helouin from France 7-6(6) 6-4 to reach round two. She faces eighth seed Montjane, who has beaten the Chilean in all eight of their previous meetings
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and Airports Company South Africa Partnership:
The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) is the official sponsor of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and the sport of wheelchair tennis. Airports Company South Africa has contributed no less than R36-million to date and has committed to a continued investment in the sport as its flagship Corporate Social Investment programme.