Kgothatso Montjane lost to Diede de Groot in Friday's semi-final at the Wimbledon wheelchair tennis tournament. Picture: Frederic Curtet

LONDON - Top seed and defending champion Diede de Groot from the Netherlands ruined any chance of the first South African wheelchair tennis player to reach Wimbledon final as she claimed a two sets victory over wild card and Wimbledon debutante Kgothatso Montjane at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in London on Friday.

Montjane gave the top seed De Groot a fright but the 32-year-old's Wimbledon debut ended in a 1-6 5-7 defeat. "What a match! I wasn’t playing my best game in the first set due to nerves, but I managed to find my rhythm in the second set. That was much better,” said Montjane.

“After losing the opening set 6-1 I knew I had to do something. I knew I had to start fighting. I gathered my momentum and fought for every point which saw me leading 5-4 in the second set but could not capitalize on my opportunities to push the match to a decider. I will always cherish this moment. It was my first time on grass-court and my first semi-final in a grand slam tournament, so I am super proud and happy,” added Montjane, who plays doubles semi-final with partner Katharina Kruger from Germany against top seeds De Groot and Japanese Yui Kamiji later on Friday evening.

De Groot led 5-0 in the opening set before the wildcard Montjane hit back, breaking the top seed as she served to bag her first game in the match to 5-1. However, De Groot steadied herself, using her big serve to great effect, and overwhelmed the South African en route to an early lead. Montjane may be ranked out of the top 5 in the world but she made the world number 1 De Groot work for every point in some lengthy and at times spectacular rallies in the second set.

De Groot took an early 1-0 lead in the second set but Montjane found her momentum and occasionally had De Groot scrambling throughout the next three games with her fearsome shot-making, but the 2017 champion was able to fight back and level the score at 3-all. After Montjane had exchanged breaks with De Groot, the world number eight lifted her performance levels to lead 5-4 but the Dutch top seed then came back strong to take the next three games in style to win the match.

Montjane reached the semi-final round at Wimbledon for the first time as she shocked world number 6 Katharina Kruger from Germany on Thursday. The Limpopo-born star claimed an impressive 6-3 2-6 6-1 victory against the 28-year-old German in 80 minutes on Court 14 enroute to the semi-final round.

Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA) General Manager Karen Losch said: “We are proud of Kgothatso’s performance, her heart and her fighting spirit. She is a true champion and great ambassador for South Africa. Well done KG. You have made us all proud.”

Tennis South Africa

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