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SA’s Ramphadi on the rampage in Italy

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Rising South African quad tennis player Donald Ramphadi showed no fear and boasted a golden arm to blow away world No 4 Sugeno Koji from Japan in Italy on Friday.

Ramphadi won in straight sets 6-4, 6-1 to reach the finals on his Sardinia Open debut.

The 25-year-old Ramphadi, who hails from Tzaneen in Limpopo, produced a stunning display to end BNP Paribas Open de France reigning champion Koji’s remarkable run in Alghero to book a place in his first International Tennis Federation (ITF) 1 final.

Koji has been in great form this season, upsetting world No 1 American David Wagner in the BNP Paribas Open de France semi-final and edging out world No 3 Britain’s Andy Lapthorne in the final of the same tournament, but the South African proved to be his downfall.

‘It’s difficult to say how I was feeling during the match. It was extremely hard physically and mentally. Koji is a fighter and I knew I had to put up a fight to win against him. I’m just so happy to come out with the win,’ said Ramphadi following the match.

The in-form Ramphadi will face US Open doubles champion Lapthorne in the quads final on Saturday. Lapthorne defeated Dutchman Sam Schroder 7-5, 6-3, who saw off South Africa’s Lucas Sithole in the quarter-final round on Thursday.

Ramphadi produced the same scintillating level of tennis earlier this year at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in the Netherlands which saw him stage a massive challenge against world No 5 Australian Heath Davidson.

Ramphadi and doubles partner Sithole are in the quads doubles final.

The unseeded South African duo defeated second seeds Anders Hård from Sweden and Antonio Raffaele from Italy 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday afternoon to set up a final blockbuster clash with British top seeds Antony Cotteril and Lapthorne.

Later in the day, top seed Kgothatso Montjane staged a valiant fight against her biggest rival Marjolein Buis from the Netherlands in the women’s semi-final round.

The US Open No 9 in their previous 28 encounters fought hard but fell to the former world No 3 in a gruelling 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 defeat after more than three hours on court.

‘I went out there and tried my best, but I battled with my wrist. It was unfortunate I couldn’t convert the first set, so I’m disappointed about that. I had an option to pull out due to the painful wrist but I just pushed myself,’ commented Montjane.

PHOTOS: Ramphadi and Montjane in Italian action, by Paolo Calaresu and Angelo Meloni


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