Sithole beaten in SA Open semi-finals

Lucas Sithole (Reg Caldecott)
Lucas Sithole (Reg Caldecott)

Johannesburg - World No 1 Dylan Alcott will be chasing double glory in South Africa after he beat local favourite Lucas Sithole in the quads semi-finals of the SA Open at Ellis Park Tennis Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.

The Australian celebrated success in his first visit to the country when he defeated American David Wagner in the Gauteng Open last Sunday.

Alcott overpowered world No 3 Sithole to win in straight sets 6-0, 6-2 and was stoked to face world No 2 Wagner in the final of the Super Series event on Saturday.

“I didn’t feel like I played my best tennis last week; in fact, I think I was lucky to get away with the win,” said the 25-year-old Melbourne native.

“I’ve come to grips with the altitude and I’ve stepped up my game. I am hitting the ball well and with much greater accuracy.

“I know the scores might suggest an easy win, but it actually was a tight match. Lucas just made too many unforced errors in the first set and I used it to my advantage to win. He was a lot tougher to beat in the second set. He didn’t make many mistakes and I had to hit my targets to draw him out to set up winning shots. It was a good match for me ahead of the final.”

The defending champion gave Alcott credit and said he gained a lot from the match.

“I haven’t played Dylan in a while and credit to him, he played a great match,” Sithole said.

“It was tight, especially in the second set, and it was a very good eye opener for me. I have some work to do in the next three weeks before I play in Japan and defend my title in Korea.”

Alcott expects former SA Open champion Wagner to come out firing.

“David showed his mettle last week,” Alcott said.

“He is very experienced, very patient and he knows how to win. I will need to bring my A-game to centre court, but I am really motivated to make it two-for-two here in South Africa.”

Wagner certainly showed great depth of character in the first UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour event, sponsored by the Airports Company South Africa.

After he, fellow Americans Greg Hasterok and Bryan Barter and tournament director Patrick Selepe were robbed just hours after they landed in South Africa, he rallied to dispose of Hasterok and Sithole to reach the final at the Gauteng East Tennis Centre.

He lost 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) to Alcott, but the 42-year-old Wagner is more than ready to go another round with the Australian.

“We came here to South Africa to compete and to win and that’s what we have done,” said Wagner after beating world No 4 Andy Lapthorne from Britain 6-3, 6-1 in their semi-final clash.

“After getting robbed at gun point last week, it means a lot to me to get to the final again. The last two weeks have been anything but easy.

“Wheelchair Tennis South Africa were great. Following the experience, they assisted us to get to American embassy to sort out our passports, replaced our equipment and clothes and medical assistance.

“But regardless of what anyone thinks, it’s a very serious situation and we just want to move on from it. It would be great to win the title after this experience, but win or lose in the final, I just want to play the best I can. I want to show that we are strong, we are not victims; we are resilient and we can overcome this situation.”

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