Johannesburg – South African wheelchair ace Lucas Sithole became the first African tennis player to feature in both the singles and doubles finals at the Australian Open.
Although his hopes of winning his second Grand Slam in six months did not materialise, Sithole managed to finish second in both events.
Sithole was beaten by world number one David Wagner from the US in both finals, to remain at number two in the singles and seventh in the doubles rankings.
Coming into the finals, Wagner and Sithole had both won two out of the three round-robin matches to secure their place in the quad's final at the first Grand Slam of 2014.
“We are proud of Lucas for reaching his second Grand Slam final,” said Sithole's coach Holger Losch.
“It is another milestone achieved and the experience he gained is extremely valuable.
“Lucas had a very successful Australian tour winning both the Apia Sydney International Open and the Melbourne Open earlier in January this year.”
In the final, Sithole started strong, focused and determined, winning the first set comfortably.
Wagner had a great start in the second set, building a lead of 3-0 when Sithole realigned his concentration and nerves to level the set at 3-3.
The American won the next two games leading 5-3 and it was Sithole's strong serves that got him back to 5-5, with Wagner taking the last two games to win the second set 7-5.
In the third set, Wagner had an early break and took the deciding set winning the match 3-6 7-5 6-3 for his third Australian Open title.
“We are excited to see what the year holds for our top South African aces Lucas Sithole, Kgothatso Montjane and Evans Maripa,” Losch said.
“I would also like to thank our game sponsor Airports Company SA, who without their support, these achievements would not have been possible.” – Sapa