MONTJANE HOLDS NERVE TO REACH SA OPEN QUARTERFINALS
South African number one Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane survived a first-set scare to negotiate her way through the opening round of the SA Open Wheelchair Tennis tournament at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg on Monday.
The world top-10 player faced a spirited fight from compatriot Mariska Venter, who pushed Montjane all the way in the first set, which eventually went to a tie-breaker. Montjane held her nerve to win that, which seemed to give her some sort of rhythm in the second set, cruising to 4-0 lead and then taking it 6-2 to win the match.
With that, Montjane booked her spot in the quarterfinals, where she’ll be up against the same opponent she met at this stage in last year’s tournament – Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany. The SA star lost out to the German in 2016 but is hoping to turn that around when the two meet again on Tuesday.
Speaking after her opening match, Montjane admitted she’s had better days. “It wasn’t a good one for me. I don’t think I played my best tennis today. I battled a lot on court and made a lot of easy mistakes but the best players win, even on their toughest days,” she said.
“I realised in the first set, it wasn’t that I was playing badly but I was making the wrong decisions and I was playing loose balls. So in the second set I just had to settle down a bit and try and push myself. I just had to relax and play my game like I normally play.”
As for facing world number six Ellerbrock once again, Montjane added: “It should be a good match. I’ve obviously played Sabine before and I think I know how she plays. She knows how I play so I’m not expecting anything different. I believe it will be a very competitive match. I just don’t want to think about it too much – rather just to pick up where I left off today in that second set.
“Coming into this tournament I said I just want to finish as high as I can. I have to take it one match at a time, play one point at a time and hope the result will come up. What happened today is done. I don’t need to beat myself up about that so I will leave it behind, otherwise I’m not going to perform tomorrow.”
Asked whether she thought her victorious opponent could make it all the way to win the tournament, Venter reckoned: “Yes, of course – she’s one of the best and I always look up to her. She’s really in good form so I hope she takes this first-round win as confidence into her next round.”
Meanwhile, talented SA teenager Alwande Skhosana, who is playing in both junior and senior tournaments this week, had no trouble in sweeping aside Ewald Lamprecht 6-1, 6-0 in his opening game.
Lamprecht provided little resistance to 16-year-old Skhosana, who is so far living up to his tag as the next big thing in SA wheelchair tennis.
“It was very easy. I expected more than it was. I played my best and I was able to win the match easily,” said the Durban star after the match.
Skhosana will now face Yoshinobu Fujimoto in the second round after the number eight seed from Japan defeated Thato Tsomole, 6-1, 6-0 in his opening match.
Speaking about taking on Fujimoto for the first time, Skhosana said: “I’m ready to face him and I’m ready to give him a challenge and enjoy the match.
“I don’t know too much about him but I did watch a bit of his match today. It doesn’t look like he hits the ball that hard – he just hits it with a lot of top spin but I don’t think there’s any weapon that he has that would make me struggle to get the balls back and play my game. I’m very confident.”
There was also a comfortable first-round win for SA number two Leon Els, who defeated compatriot Similo Basi 6-0, 6-1.
In other women’s matches, third seed Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands beat South Africa’s Nonkanyiso Nyosi 6-1,6-1, Britain’s Lucy Shuker sailed to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over SA’s Siphokazi Fuma and France’s Charlotte Famin beat Nsuku Ndhlovu by the same margin.