TOP SEED DE GROOT PUSHED BY DEBUTANTE MONTJANE AT WIMBLEDON
Top seed and defending champion Diede de Groot from the Netherlands ruined any chance of the first South African wheelchair tennis player to reach Wimbledon final as she claimed a two sets victory over wild card and Wimbledon debutante Kgothatso Montjane at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London on Friday.
Montjane gave the top seed De Groot a fright but the 32-year-old's Wimbledon debut ended in a 1-6 5-7 defeat.
"What a match! I wasn’t playing my best game in the first set due to nerves, but I managed to find my rhythm in the second set. That was much better,” said Montjane.
“After losing the opening set 6-1 I knew I had to do something. I knew I had to start fighting. I gathered my momentum and fought for every point which saw me leading 5-4 in the second set but could not capitalize on my opportunities to push the match to a decider."
“I will always cherish this moment. It was my first time on grass-court and my first semi-final in a grand slam tournament, so I am super proud and happy,” added Montjane who plays doubles semi-final with partner Katharina Kruger from Germany against top seeds Diede de Groot (NED) and Japanese Yui Kamiji later this evening.
De Groot led 5-0 in the opening set before the wildcard Montjane hit back, breaking the top seed as she served to bag her first game in the match to 5-1. However, De Groot steadied herself, using her big serve to great effect, and overwhelmed the South African en route to an early lead.
Montjane may be ranked out of the top 5 in the world but she made the world number 1 De Groot work for every point in some lengthy and at times spectacular rallies in the second set.
De Groot took an early 1-0 lead in the second set but Montjane found her momentum and occasionally had De Groot scrambling throughout the next three games with her fearsome shot-making, but the 2017 champion was able to fight back and level the score at 3-all.
After Montjane had exchanged breaks with De Groot, the world number eight lifted her performance levels to lead 5-4 but the Dutch top seed then came back strong to take the next three games in style to win the match.
Montjane reached the semi-final round at Wimbledon for the first time as she shocked world number 6 Katharina Kruger from Germany on Thursday.
The Limpopo-born star claimed an impressive 6-3 2-6 6-1 victory against the 28-year-old German in 80 minutes on Court 14 enroute to the semi-final round.
Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) General Manager Karen Losch said: “We are proud of Kgothatso’s performance, her heart and her fighting spirit. She is a true champion and great ambassador for South Africa. Well done KG. You have made us all proud.”