SKHOSANA STUNS TOP SEED LEON ELS TO WIN SOWETO OPEN
South African wheelchair tennis top junior Alwande Skhosana stunned four-time Soweto Open champion Leon Els to win his first men’s singles title at Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Soweto on Monday.
The 16-year-old Skhosana was very emotional as he waits to lift his first major trophy in Jabavu.
It took the second-seeded Skhosana just over two hours who struggled to hold back the tears, after beating Els in a hard-fought 6-4 1-6 7-5.
“I am very emotional and happy about how I played today. My aim was to challenge Leon today and little did I know that my fighting spirit will pay off at the end,” said Skhosana following his match.
“I didn’t do much in the match, I just kept him on the back where he is weak and I was able to win some important games to win the match.
“Today’s win is big for me, I am very excited and I will continue working hard to add more tournament wins in my bag,” added Skhosana.
The world number 6 junior was quick to take control of the first set as he broke Els in the opening game and enjoyed a 2-0 lead in just 9 minutes.
In the second set Els took charge from the onset and sealed it 6-1 untroubled but the strong-hitting Kwazulu-Natal star came back strong in the third set and rallied after a difficult start to take the deciding set.
After a short rest, the 16-year-old was back on court against Swiss number 1 Nalani Buob for the junior’s title. Skhosana recorded his third junior singles title in Jabavu after he toppled Buob 6-1 6-0.
The determined Skhosana joined forces with Leon Els following his junior final to win the men’s doubles title 6-1 6-1 in 43 minutes against Vuyisani Mantshula and Mpho Mhlongo. Winning three titles at Arthur Ashe, it was obvious that Skhosana meant business. Aggressive and dogged, the world number 6 junior was striking the ball like a player ranked higher.
In the women’s tournament, third seed Mariska Venter who knocked out top seed Nalani Buob from Switzerland on Sunday clinched her first women’s singles title at Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre.
The former world number 1 junior who finished as a runner-up in the Soweto Open four-years in a row captured her 7th women’s singles career title - but just the second this year - after downing Veronica Zvik from Israel for the 2nd time in their two meetings.
An ecstatic Venter needed just 51 minutes to win the trophy and become the first South African women’s player to win the event since Rose van der Meer in 2014.
“It feels so great finishing off that bad habit of losing in the finals, so being able to win the title today was long waited for. I deserve the title because I worked very hard and I am very excited that it happened this year,” commented 21-year-old Venter.
“It’s a new mind-set, a new strategy and a new game plan we have been working on with my coach that helped me to get through the match today,” added Venter.
Venter set the tone of the match right from the first game. Making her intentions clear, in just 10 minutes the third seed had won three games and that early 3-0 lead told the story of the match. The Israeli number 1 never found her rhythm and could not settle into the match, while Venter looked calm and poised.
The 21-year-old held onto her lead and then powered through the final set to claim a stunning victory.
In the quads event, top seed Danny Mohlamonyane becomes Soweto Open champion for the second time as he beats compatriot Bongani Dlamini 3-6 6-4 6-0 on Centre Court.
Mohlamonyane survived a first set scare but came back strong to secure the second set and cruised through the decider in just over two hours to claim the title.