Fired-up Sithole takes on French Open


Top South African wheelchair tennis quad ace Lucas Sithole enters the French Open Super Series tournament in promising form after picking up some much-needed confidence on Sunday, winning the singles and doubles titles at the Toyota Open International de L’ile de Re in France. The world No4, who is brimming with confidence following his first ever Toyota Open titles, believes he has a better chance of doing well this week at the French Open starting on Tuesday in Paris. The 30-year-old’s preparation got off to the perfect start on Sunday afternoon when he saw off doubles partner Sam Schroder from the Netherlands’ in the quads final, winning 7-5 2-6 7-5. In a thrilling match, that lasted 1hr 55min, the Kwazulu-Natal triple amputee fought back from being outclassed in the second set to claim the quads singles title. The South African struggled in the first three games of the opening set and made six unforced errors to hand the early initiative to the Dutch world number eight. Sithole then found his momentum and backed himself out of a corner when he levelled the score at 5-5 in the tenth game and finally took the set. However, Schroder came back strong in the second set making it a quick work to take the set 6-2. At 3-3 in the third set, the two toggled back and forth to 5-5 in the tenth game but the two-time Grand Slam champion finally seized an opportunity to close the set 7-5. ‘I feel very confident ahead of the French Open and hope for a better finish this year. Playing a tournament of this level ahead of the French Open always gives me an opportunity to play matches and implement the things that I have been working on in my practices. ‘The Toyota Open is played on the same surface as the French Open and this gives me extra time on a surface that is a bit tricky and not used at any other high level events during the year,’ said Sithole. Sithole and Schroder joined forces in the doubles competition to beat Bryan Barten from America and Antonio Raffaele from Italy 6-2 6-1 in the doubles final on Saturday before they met again in the singles event of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) level 1 tournament. Picture of Sithole courtesy of Reg Caldecott Source – SASCOC