LUCAS SITHOLE THROUGH TO NEC MASTERS SEMIS
South African quad ace Lucas Sithole booked his place in the semi-finals of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters as the world number 6 dispatched Andy Lapthorne in straight sets on Friday’s third day of play in Lake Nona, Orlando.
Sithole put his 3-6 4-6 loss to Wagner on the first day of play firmly behind him as he eased to a 6-4 6-4 victory over Lapthorne to ensure a place in the last four.
Lapthorne impressed on Thursday defeating American world number 1 David Wagner, but the Brit world number 3 could not contain the in-form Sithole.
"I played a good match. I went for my shots and I am glad it payed off," said Sithole after his match.
A persistent illness kept Sithole out of action for most of the year, but the former US Open champion looks to be back to his winning ways. The last time Sithole defeated Lapthorne was in the semi-final round of the 2016 US Open ITF Super Series tournament in St. Louis and since then the Newcastle native couldn’t get past the Brit.
"I had a challenging year, so it's really great getting to the semi-finals of the NEC Masters, I really worked hard to get here," said Sithole.
"There’s only good opponents left in the semi-final, the best in the world. So, I know it is not going to be easy, but I look forward to the challenge.”
Sithole has set up a last-four clash against world number 2 Australian Dylan Alcott on Saturday. This will be another tough match for Sithole against the Australian who leads 15-2 in their head-to-head series. The South African number 1 has never beaten the reigning US Open champion since the Australian Open in 2014.
“I'm playing Alcott tomorrow, which is going to be a very difficult but hopefully very nice match. I will play my game and hope for the best."
Sithole expressed his confidence and readiness to tackle the season-ending singles championships after reaching the final of the Bath Indoor tournament last month in Britain.
In the women’s event, the country’s top ranked women’s player Kgothatso Montjane is out of the NEC Masters after the world number 5 lost her third round-robin group match to Japanese world number 2 Yui Kamiji.
Kamiji’s progress in her last round-robin match was decidedly smoother, the Japanese easing her way through to a 6-1 6-1 win over Montjane and pole position in Pool B.
You can follow the action at http://www2.tennisticker.de/usa/ustanc/sb.html?tournid=384 or livestreaming on Facebook at Wheelchair Tennis SA