South African number one Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane survived a first-set scare to negotiate her way through the opening round of the SA Open Wheelchair Tennis tournament at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg on Monday.
The SA Open Wheelchair Tennis tournament is a ITF Super Series tournament, which is part of the global UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
In today’s first-round draw, world top-10 Montjane faced a spirited fight from compatriot Mariska Venter, who pushed Montjane all the way in the first set, which eventually went to a tie-breaker.
Montjane held her nerve to win the set, which seemed to give her some sort of rhythm into the second set, cruising to 4-0 lead and then taking it 6-2 to win the match.
With that, Montjane booked her spot in the quarterfinals, where she’ll be up against the same opponent she met at this stage in last year’s tournament – Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany. The SA star lost out to the German in 2016 but is hoping to turn that around when the two meet again on Tuesday.
Speaking after her opening match, Montjane admitted she’s had better days. “It wasn’t a good one for me. I don’t think I played my best tennis today. I battled a lot on court and made a lot of easy mistakes but the best players win, even on their toughest days,” she said.
“I realised in the first set, it wasn’t that I was playing badly but I was making the wrong decisions and I was playing loose balls. So in the second set I just had to settle down a bit and try and push myself. I just had to relax and play my game like I normally play.”
As for facing world number six Ellerbrock once again, Montjane added: “It should be a good match. I’ve obviously played Sabine before and I think I know how she plays. She knows how I play so I’m not expecting anything different. I believe it will be a very competitive match. I just don’t want to think about it too much – rather just to pick up where I left off today in that second set.
“Coming into this tournament I said I just want to finish as high as I can. I have to take it one match at a time, play one point at a time and hope the result will come up. What happened today is done. I don’t need to beat myself up about that so I will leave it behind, otherwise I’m not going to perform tomorrow.”
Asked whether she thought her victorious opponent could make it all the way to win the tournament, Venter reckoned: “Yes, of course – she’s one of the best and I always look up to her. She’s really in good form so I hope she takes this first-round win as confidence into her next round.”
In other women’s matches, third seed Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands beat South Africa’s Nonkanyiso Nyosi 6-1,6-1, Britain’s Lucy Shuker sailed to a 6-0, 6-0 victory over SA’s Siphokazi Fuma and France’s Charlotte Famin beat Nsuku Ndhlovu by the same margin.
First Round Women’s Singles Results* of the SA Open (ITF Super Series tournament, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour) at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg, on Monday, 10 April, 2017:
3-Aniek Van Koot (NED) bt Nyosi Nonkanyiso 6-1 6-1
4-Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) bt Asive Gilifile 6-0 6-0
Kgothatso Montjane bt Mariska Venter 7-6 (3) 6-2
Lucy Shuker (GBR) bt Siphokazi Fuma 6-0 6-0
Nokwanda Hlongwane bt Lethabo Shai 6-1 6-0
Charlotte Famin (FRA) bt Nsuku Ndhlovu 6-0 6-0
* RSA unless stated
** First Round byes for top seed Diede de Groot and second-seed Marjolein Buys
Photo 1 caption: South Africa’s leading women’s player Kgothatso ‘KG’ Montjane was pushed all the way through their first set by compatriot Mariska Venter in the opening round of the SA Open women’s singles at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg on Monday, 10 April 2017. Montjane found her rhythm after narrowly winning the first set, to progress to a match win and into the tournament’s second round. Photo: Reg Caldecott
Photo 1 caption: “I didn’t play my best today, I made many mistakes but I’m glad I pulled through. I am hoping for a good match against Sabine (Ellerbrock)!” said Montjane at the post-match media briefing. Photo: @WCTennis on Twitter
With editing by gsport