South Africa’s highest-ranked women’s wheelchair tennis player Kgothatso Montjane said she is primed for the challenge in the much-anticipated Australian Open tournament starting this Wednesday in Melbourne.
The 31-year-old will be the only South African participating in the Grand Slam tournament after two-time Grand Slam champion Lucas Sithole did not make the qualification in the quads event for the second successive year.
Montjane, who impressed last week when she stood her ground in the face of some testing early pressure before pulling away from world No6 6 Lucy Shuker of Britain with a stunning 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory in a captivating quarter-final in the Melbourne Open, said she was feeling much fresher after two weeks of back-to-back tournaments in Australia.
‘A Grand Slam is a huge challenge, but I’m ready to fight through,’ commented Montjane following the Melbourne Open tournament. ‘I have high ambitions for myself – I think everyone does, but I’m absolutely aware it’s not going to be easy at all going up against the top six ranked women.
‘I’ve been working very hard with my coach since the beginning of the year in preparation for the Australian Open. Playing the two preparatory tournaments here in Australia ahead of the Grand Slam was also vital, so I’ll give it my all,’ added Montjane.
The world No7 from Limpopo made history in 2013 by becoming the first player from Africa to compete in the invitation-only women’s draw of the Australian Open event where she was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Aniek van Koot from the Netherlands.
Montjane reached the quarter-final round again in 2014 and 2016, losing to world No3 Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock and world No5 Van Koot respectively.
The top seven ranked men’s and women’s players and top three quad players at the ranking cut-off plus one wild card for each event make up the 20 players who will vie for the singles and doubles titles over four days of competition at Melbourne Park.
Picture of Montjane courtesy of Reg Caldecott