Ellerbrock and Sithole claim British Open titles
Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany and Lucas Sithole of South Africa won the women’s singles and quad singles titles on Saturday’s penultimate day of the 24th British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships.
On a packed day of tennis, French top seed Stephane Houdet and fifth seed Joachim Gerard of Belgium also reached Sunday’s men’s singles final at Nottingham Tennis Centre.
World No. 1 Ellerbrock won a remarkable women’s singles final against world No. 2 Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands 0-6, 6-2, 7-5 to become the first non-Dutch winner of the British Open women’s title since Australia’s Daniela di Toro clinched the second of her back-to-back titles in 1999.
The German’s victory was even more remarkable for the fact that she lost the opening set to love in just 25 minutes. However, Ellerbrock came out playing more attacking tennis in the second set and built a 5-0 lead en route to levelling the match. She then came from 4-2 down in the final and, despite being hindered by several double faults, finally wrapped up her third Super Series title.
“I couldn’t find my rhythm in the opening set and had many problems with the windy weather, but I took the ball earlier in the second set and started to play more on her backhand side and I’m delighted and quite emotional to win my first British Open,” said Ellerbrock.
World No. 3 Sithole became the first African player to win a Super Series title in what was his third Super Series quad singles final of 2013. After beating world No. 1 David Wagner in the semi-finals of April’s South African Open Super Series, the South African third seed swapped breaks with his American opponent early in the first set, but with the two players locked together after the first ten games Sithole finally clinched the set 7-5.
Wagner built on a 5-0 lead in the second set tie-break to force a decider , but Sithole gained the crucial break in the penultimate of the final set as he completed a 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4 victory to claim his first Super Series crown and his second career win over Wagner.
“It’s an incredible feeling and I’m very proud to be the first African to do it [win a Super Series], hopefully it inspires other wheelchair tennis players in Africa to keep working hard,” said Sithole. “It was a big relief to have won as he fought hard and now I have to focus on building on this performance ahead of the upcoming tournaments in the USA.”
World No. 2 Houdet denied British No. 1 and world No. 4 Gordon Reid a place in his second successive British Open men’s singles final, despite Reid fighting back to win the second set of their semi-final. Houdet went on to win 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 to reach his second British Open final since 2009.
World No. 6 Gerard reached his first British Open final and his second Super Series final this season after defeating world No. 8 Jeremiasz 6-1, 6-3 on his fourth match point in a tense conclusion, beating the Frenchman for just the second time in his career.
Houdet completed a highly successful day when he and Dutchman Ronald Vink, the top seeds, beat second seeds Jeremiasz and his Dutch partner Maikel Scheffers 6-3, 7-6(2) to claim their second Super Series title of 2013 after also winning January’s Sydney International Open together.
In the quad doubles semi-finals Antony Cotterill reached his first Super Series final as the Brit and Hasterok defeated all-British partnership Richard Green and Ian Payne 6-3, 6-0. However, Jamie Burdekin was unable to make it two Brits in the final after he and Sithole missed out to Canada’s Sarah Hunter and Wagner 7-5, 6-3.
Organised by the Tennis Foundation, the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships is one of six events to have Super Series status, the highest tier of tournament on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour outside of the Grand Slams.