South Africa’s leading men’s wheelchair tennis player Evans Maripa fought like a lion before going down in the Bolton Indoor final against former world No1 Joachim Gerard from Belgium at the weekend.
The Limpopo-born star, who reached the final in Bolton without dropping a set, saw his hopes of a first Bolton Indoor title ended in a 6-3 7-5 defeat by the Belgian, now ranked world No9.
After being knocked out in the opening round in 2016 and reaching the quarter-finals last year in Bolton, this was an even better performance for Maripa who returned home on Sunday.
Maripa, who has rediscovered some of his best form in the tournament, admitted to nerves and overthinking as he lost an error-strewn opening set. ‘I was very nervous in the first set, thinking of winning and losing which played a huge role in the errors I made which resulted in the 6-3 loss,’ said Maripa.
But the world No12 then found his momentum to dominate the second set taking an early lead 4-1 against the 29-year-old Belgian.
Maripa then began to stir up his game with nerves again and allowed Gerard to stage a comeback and overpowered him to level the score at 4-all. ‘I started the second set very well, took an early lead but couldn’t capitalise on it due to overthinking again and more nerves,’ commented Maripa.
The second set saw the pendulum of momentum swing between the two players.
Another lapse in concentration allowed Gerard back in and when the Belgian landed a majestic lob for 5-5, Maripa looked somewhat dispirited.
Gerard looked revitalised and swiftly found himself 6-5 up and conjured some brilliant play to wrap it up 7-5 to lift the title.
‘Despite the loss, I am very pleased with my performance. I played some amazing tennis and managed to stay focused throughout the week which landed me into the final. It was really a productive week for me in Bolton,’ added Maripa.
Picture of Maripa courtesy Barrington Coombs/Getty Images for Tennis Foundation