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Sithole’s early-season form continues Down Under

London Paralympian wheelchair tennis player Lucas Sithole’s great start to the New Year has continued in Australia this week, writes Mark Etheridge.

Already this year he has claimed both the Apia Sydney International and Melbourne Open titles in the quad singles and doubles divisions, with the sizzling conditions making it extremely exhausting for competitors.

And this week he’s been in action at the Australian Open, also in Melbourne, and the year’s first Grand Slam event.

On Wednesday he opened his campaign with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Britain’s Andy Lapthorne, in a match lasting just over an hour. Also in action will be our top women’s wheelchair player Kgothatso Montjane.

To take his latest title, Sithole beat another British player, Jamie Burdekin in straight sets, also 6-4 6-2 and then beat Lapthorne in a tough three-setter. Montjane reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne.

Fellow Olympian Evans Maripa won his first match in Melbourne but then went down to world No1 Shingo Kunieda of Japan, 3-6 3-6.

Said Holger Losch, coach and director of Wheelchair Tennis South Africa: ÔÇ£Both KG and Lucas have prepared well, are in good spirits, and are capable of bringing home the titles. We wish them luck and offer our support to two real champions.ÔÇØ