“Dylan, Andrew and David are my closest competitors because we all have what it takes to beat each other. The three have played very well to date and I enjoy playing them because I always learn something out of the match,”
With just over one month to go until the BNP Paribas Open de France, South African wheelchair tennis star Lucas Sithole is hoping to perform better than he did last year in Paris.
The 28-year-old was beaten in straight sets by his Australian doubles partner Dylan Alcott in the semi-finals at last year’s event and also lost at the same stage in the doubles too.
“I really want to do well. I love playing in the French Open and I am hoping to do better this year,” said Sithole.
Alcott has always been a challenge for Sithole who not beaten the 24-year-old in any of their singles matches since meeting in Paris last year. The pair however have enjoyed doubles success in 2015, winning January’s event in Sydney, Australia.
“I really enjoy playing with my doubles partner Dylan Alcott because we are able to cover for each other on court,” said Sithole, currently ranked fourth in the Quads division.
“Dylan is a good player and it is always unpredictable to know who is going to win the match as we know each other's game.”
World number two Alcott is not the only challenger for Sithole this year with Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne and the USA’s David Wagner currently ranked third and first in the world.
“Dylan, Andrew and David are my closest competitors because we all have what it takes to beat each other. The three have played very well to date and I enjoy playing them because I always learn something out of the match,” said Sithole.
Ahead of the French Open, Sithole will return home to play in the ACSA Gauteng Open and South African Open. It will be the first time that the left-handed star will have played in front of a home crowd since last year’s South African Open in Johannesburg.
“It feels very good to play in my country because of the support I get and it also gives South Africans a chance to know more about the sport and support it,” said Sithole.
“To have a major tournament in my country makes me feel good and proud, yes there is pressure and huge expectations on us as South African players. But, that is because the up-and-coming players look upon us and expect better results.”
In the two tournaments in 2014, Sithole was beaten in both singles finals by Wagner. Sithole lost 6-2 6-1 in the Gauteng Open, before losing to the power of the American a week later in the South African Open, 6-2 6-3.
“Last year I lost in both tournaments, but this year I am practicing harder and I want to do better than last year,” Sithole explained.
“My aim is to improve my ranking and play well in all tournaments starting with this month's Airports Company South Africa Gauteng and SA Open. The two tournaments are key to me especially because they are at home.”
The ACSA Gauteng Open started on 8 April, whilst the South African Open begins a week later on 14 April.