5 May 2014
American David Wagner ended his South African safari with a victory over Lucas Sithole in the final of the quads in the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) SA Open at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
In a showdown between the world number one and two, it was the more experienced Wagner who won 6-2 6-3.
It was a double triumph for the American, who also beat Sithole in last week’s Gauteng Open.
After securing victory, Wagner paid tribute to the young South African as a man who has rapidly become a force in the quads’ division.
“I knew Lucas would have a lot of support out there, and it’s phenomenal to see that kind of support in wheelchair tennis. It’s good that they could see him playing at his best at home. But for me, this is great because I lost in the semi-finals here last year to Lucas. I know Lucas will never give up in a match, so I can’t let down my guard,” said Wagner.
Sithole lost his serve in the first game of each set, but did well to save three match points before eventually succumbing.
‘Very smart tennis’
“David played very smart tennis. I knew he was going to go all out and I gave it my best, but it didn’t work out,” Sithole said.
“It’s not great losing at home because this is our biggest tournament, but I’m happy for the organisers and sponsors because this is a great event. To get the top players here motivates our young players.”
The significance of having so many leading players competing in the event was also not lost on Wagner.
“I love the sport and I love what’s going on in the sport, and in countries like South Africa. I love that I get to be a small part of that and to inspire people. As long as I feel competitive and I’m enjoying it, I’ll continue to play,” he enthused.
Men’s singles final
In the men’s singles final, world number two Stephane Houdet of France beat British world number three Gordon Reid 6-3 6-3 to also claim an African double following his victory in last week’s Gauteng Open.
“I played smart. I won almost all of the break points and just lost my serve once. I gave him tough balls to play,” said Houdet.
‘The altitude is tough’
Both players, however, felt they could have delivered better tennis. “The level of the game could’ve been better. The altitude is tough when it comes to controlling the ball, and I think we both made too many mistakes.” the French star added.
Reid had his opportunities, but failed to take advantage of them. “I’m very disappointed, more with the standard of the tennis and not just the result. I had my chances but if you don’t take them against a player like Stephane you’re going to get punished, and that’s what happened,” he said.
The women’s singles final saw the only upset of the day when Aniek Van Koot of The Netherlands beat world number one Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany 6-4 4-6 6-4, with Ellerbrock suffering from dehydration after the titanic battle.
“This is quite special. I didn’t expect this considering how badly I was playing at the beginning of the tournament,” said Van Koot, who defeated South African world number seven KG Montjane on her way to the title.
In the doubles, Wagner and Sarah Hunter won the quads’ title, beating Antony Cotterill and Andrew Lapthorne 6-1 2-6 7-6 (3).
The men’s doubles final was won by Houdet and Frederic Cattaneo, who beat Nicolas Peifer and Reid 6-3 6-1.
There was success for South Africa’s Montjane in the women’s doubles final. She and Marjolein Buis of The Netherlands thrashed Van Koot and Lucy Shuker 6-0 6-1 to lift the title.