SITHOLE OVERCOMES SLUGGISH START TO ADVANCE AT JAPAN OPEN
South African wheelchair tennis quad ace Lucas Sithole dug deep to beat former world No.6 Shota Kawano from Japan on Wednesday to advance to the quarter-final round of the Japan Open in Iizuka, Japan.
The world No.4 had his back against the wall in the opening set but came back strong to defeat the Japanese 3-6 6-4 6-0 to move a win closer to his second Japan Open title.
Sithole arrived in Iizuka on Sunday to fight in his bid to reclaim his title at the Japan Open, a tournament which is an International Tennis Federation (ITF) event part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour and the third Super Series event of the year.
In 2014, Sithole ended former world No.1 American David Wagner’s sequence of seven successive Japan Open titles when the South African claimed his first Japan Open title.
The 30-year-old will play world No.6 Kyu-Seung Kim from Korea in the quarter-final round. The Korean defeated unseeded Tomoko Suzuki from Japan in Wednesday’s other second round match.
"I felt slow and sluggish in the first set due to the difficult nature of Kawano’s game, but then I began getting used to it and my groove back despite the heat and extreme humidity in the second and third set to win the match,” said Sithole.
Sithole’s coach, Holger Losch said: “It took some time for Lucas to get used to the extremely effective and low bouncing slice balls from Kawano. Then in the second and third set, the heat and humidity took its toll on both of them but Lucas then took charge and clinched the match.”
The country’s leading women’s player Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane, seeded No.8 will begin her Japan Open campaign on Thursday when she goes up against American world No.14 Dana Mathewson. Montjane will be hoping to avenge her recent loss to the 26-year-old who had gotten the better of her in their fourth meeting in the finals of the North West Challenge tournament in Britain. The American won the encounter against Montjane 7-5 6-7(5) 7-6(9).
If all goes according to plan, Montjane will face off against last month’s SA Open women’s singles champion and world No.3 Diede De Groot from the Netherlands in the quarter-final round.