9 September 2013
South African wheelchair tennis player Lucas Sithole continued his rocketing ascent in the world of quads by capturing the US Open singles title in New York on Sunday.
In late July, Sithole captured the British Open title with a hard-fought 7-5, 6-7, 6-4 victory over David Wagner.
The South African, ranked second in the world to Wagner, faced the American for a major title again in New York.
Two-time defending champion
Wagner was the two-time defending champion and playing in front of his home crowd, but the left-handed Sithole had beaten him before and was out to do the trick again.
To get to the final, Sithole had to get by Wagner, Andy Lapthorne and Nick Taylor, and then take on the world number one again.
He advanced to the title decider with an unblemished record, seeing off world number four Taylor 6-2, 6-2, Wagner 1-6, 6-4, 6-1 and world number three Lapthorne 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Strength and endurance
What the South African demonstrated on his way to the final was strength and endurance, twice coming from behind to win, and that once again helped him in the final.
Wagner took the opening set 6-3 and the contest was very tight in the second set at 4-4 and deuce. The pressure then told on the American and he sent down successive double faults to give Sithole the lead with his serve to come.
The 26-year-old made no mistake and levelled the contest after taking the set 6-4.
Within sight of victory
There was nothing between the two players in the deciding set until Wagner’s serve let him down in the seventh game. Two double faults saw Sithole within sight of a huge victory, up 4-3 and serving.
The South African star held his nerve to triumph 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 and become the first player from Africa to win a US Open singles title of any kind.
“I was confident coming into the final,” Sithole after his victory.
“I’d like to thank the supporters and also David for sharing the experience with me on court. I really enjoy playing against him. He is a great player, one of the best in the quads.”