Top seed Dewald van Niekerk (SACD) won the battle of the brothers when he registered his first-ever win over elder sibling Rudi 3-0 in the semi-finals of the Growthpoint SA Nationals squash championships at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday. Photo: Carl Fourie/BLD Communications
Top seed Dewald van Niekerk (SACD) won the battle of the brothers when he registered his first-ever win over elder sibling Rudi 3-0 in the semi-finals of the Growthpoint SA Nationals squash championships at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday. Photo: Carl Fourie/BLD Communications

Top seed Dewald van Niekerk through to SA Nationals squash final

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Oct 22, 2021

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Cape Town - Top seed Dewald van Niekerk won the battle of the brothers after he registered his first-ever win over elder sibling Rudi in the semi-finals of the Growthpoint SA Nationals squash championships at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday evening.

The final scoreline of 3-0 belies the nature of the match, which was a terrific battle in which the 24-year-old Dewald showed impressive mental strength and patience to hold a slight edge throughout.

His victory set up a showdown with second seed and defending champion Christo Potgieter on Saturday.

Earlier this year, Rudi had defeated Dewald in the final of the Londt Park Open in Gqeberha/Port Elizabeth, but on Thursday he was able to make a significant breakthrough.

“Many people don’t know that this is the first time I have ever beaten my brother, but I am very proud of his efforts, and he has always been there to support me,” he said.

“Actually, he has been punishing me since I was six, so perhaps it was my turn,” Dewald added with a smile.

Second seed Christo Potgieter (Joburg Squash) beat third seed Ruan Olivier (Northerns) 3-0 in the semi-finals of the Growthpoint SA Nationals squash championships at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday. Photo: Carl Fourie/BLD Communications

The match was filled with punishing rallies, but Dewald’s patience and strength told in the end. He managed to get a lead in each game, and it was always a challenge for Rudi to close the gap.

Earlier, their sister, Lizelle Muller, showed great improvement on Wednesday’s effort to reach her third final in a row, defeating SA Country Districts teammate Alexa Pienaar 3-0.

The 37-year-old top seed is determined to end a run of setbacks in the final and is ready to “give it a full go” in the final against No 2 Milnay Louw.

“I was really focused from the start of the match today, and I felt I played much better,” Muller said.

In other action, both Potgieter and Louw had too much in the tank for Ruan Olivier and Hayley Ward respectively.

Lizelle Muller of Gqeberha made it through to Saturday’s women’s final of the Growthpoint SA Nationals at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town when she beat Alexa Pienaar (SACD) 3-0 in the semi-finals on Thursday. Photo: Carl Fourie/BLD Communications

Potgieter and Olivier had a titanic struggle in last year’s final in Tshwane/Pretoria, which the former eventually won, but this time the result was far more decisive.

The second seed from Johannesburg continued to show superb movement around the court and when you couple that with his stroke-making flamboyance, it was just a level ahead of what his Northerns rival could manage.

The 3-0 result has set up what should be a terrific final against the younger Van Niekerk.

Northerns player Louw, who lives in Cape Town, produced a near-flawless performance to out-duel her promising young rival from Port Elizabeth.

The 24-year-old Ward never gave up the fight, but Louw found her rhythm with her length game to have her opponent under constant pressure. She acknowledged that after the match.

“I watched my match from yesterday and decided I needed to improve my length and to try to make sure there was nothing half-court,” she said.

“When that happens your opponent can be very dangerous so that was my objective going out there today.”

Her tactics managed to allow her to dominate the central part of the court and Ward was not able to create the challenging conditions to raise the intensity against her experienced opponent.

IOL Sport

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