Lucas Sithole © Reg Caldecott
South African wheelchair tennis ace Lucas Sithole got his SA Open campaign off to a scintillating start with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Michael Mahlanya at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg this morning.
Mahlanya was clearly outclassed from the start and struggled to match the power of SA’s number one-ranked quads player, who is looking to regain the title he last won in Johannesburg in 2015.
While there was little resistance offered on court, Sithole was pleased to have had his first hit of the ball at the SA Open as he now looks ahead to playing compatriot Ronewa Mudzanani in tomorrow’s semifinal.
Fourth-seeded Mudzanani earlier also claimed a trouble-free win in his opening match, beating Nkosanye Nkosi 6-0, 6-0 to set up the Sithole showdown.
Speaking after his match, Sithole said: “It was just one of those matches where everything is slow – where you need to focus a lot. I was working more on my placement, especially on my serves and trying to keep my movement going.”
As for his semifinal clash with Mudzanani, he added: “I have never played him but I watched him playing at the camp last week in Soweto and he has improved so I just need to keep my game up and kill each and every ball that comes on my racquet.
“Being the top seed doesn’t mean anything – I could lose tomorrow and go out so the only thing I need to do is make my game more solid and then definitely I’ll go all the way.”
Speaking about taking on Sithole for the first time, Mudzanani said: “It’s exciting. I’m happy because it’s my first time but it’s a big challenge so I will do my best.”
As for the chances of actually beating him, the Limpopo athlete added: “It’s tennis so I think there’s a chance. The way I’m playing, I’m not just going there to lose. If I lose, I don’t want it to be an easy score. I want it to be tough and give him a challenge.”
Meanwhile, in other matches played this morning, SA’s number two Leon Els was beaten 6-1, 6-1 by Britain’s Gordon Reid and French fourth seed Nicolas Peifer defeated SA’s Donald Ramphadi 6-1, 6-2.
Tennis action continues this afternoon at the Ellis Park Tennis Stadium at the SA Open, which is part of part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour and ends on Friday.