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South Africans are putting on a strong show at the Soweto Open in the men’s tournament, though Eastern Europe is dominating the women’s games.
FEROCIOUS clashes raged on the balmy first day of the Soweto Open, with South African players proudly flying the flag for their country.


Izak van der Merwe (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Eye on the ball: Izak van der Merwe (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)The member of the mayoral committee for community development, Bafana Sithole, presided over the coin toss before the players went straight into battle.

Home-grown hero Izak van der Merwe showed his mettle when he took on the American Daniel Cox. He dominated throughout the game, emerging victorious at 7-5 7-6(3). Fellow countryman Ruan Roelofse trounced Warren Kuhn 6-3 6-1.

Not all the South African men succeeded in their grab for glory, though; Renier Moolman was brutally defeated by Australian Greg Jones 6-3 6-2.

The fast-paced fury continued as France’s Ludovic Walter stayed on top in his clash against Karan Rastogi from India, claiming his prize 6-4 6-4; Sergei Bubka from Ukraine destroyed Evgeny Kirillov from Russia 6-2 6-4; and Luxemburg’s Gilles Muller smashed German Sebastian Rieschick 6-1 6-4.

Jan Merlt from the Czech Republic and Belgian Ruben Bemelmans played a closely contested game, with neither one giving an inch. Merlt eventually grabbed victory by beating Bemelmans 7-5 5-7 7-5.


Petra Cetkovska from the Czech RepublicPetra Cetkovska from the Czech Republic is through to the next roundThe South African women failed to rise to the top in their tournament, however, watching instead as the matches were dominated by competitors from Eastern Europe. Madrie le Roux was thrashed by Georgia’s Oksana Kalashnikova 6-3 6-1; Petra Cetkovska from the Czech Republic kept France’s Anais Laurendon in her place at 6-3 6-3; and Russia’s Valeria Savinykh came back from a slow beginning to defeat Eva Birnerova from the Czech Republic 2-6 6-3 6-2.

Greece’s Erini Georgatou also turned up the heat by defeating Poland’s Justyna Jegiolka in a clean sweep 6-2 6-2.

The women’s doubles proved to be just as nail-biting as the other games of the day, with South Africans Surina de Beer and Chanel Simmonds claiming the win after playing a close game against Australian Jessica Moore and Thailand’s Noppawan Lertcheewakarn. They won 2-6 6-2 11-9. Georgatou and Kalashnikova paired up to smash South Africans Sarah-Lynn du Plessis and Tegan Edwards.

Russians Nina Bratchikova and Savinykh shattered Laurendon and Luxemburg’s Mandy Minella 6-4 6-2. Bratchikova is the defending women’s singles champion.

Day two
In today’s play, the second round of Round of 32, the defending champion, Dustin Brown from Germany, will slug it out with South African Nikala Scholtz on the centre court.

Japan’s Toshihide Matsui will serve against Australian Matthew Ebden on court four, while Thailand’s Danai Udomchoke will play against German Andre Begemann. Simon Stadler, also from Germany, will face Michal Przysiezny from Poland on court eight.


City of Joburg officials watch the action from the standsCity of Joburg officials watch the action from the standsSouth African Rik de Voest will take on compatriot Raven Klaasen; Ukraine’s Denys Molchanov will play against Belgian Yannick Mertens; and Stanislav Vovk from Russia is set to compete against Chris Eaton from Great Britain.

In the men’s doubles, Australian Jones will be paired with American Rajeev Ram as they try to take down South Africans Moolman and Scholtz.

Germany’s Rieschick and Stadler will come up against Belgium’s Bemelmans and Russian Kirillovat on court four.

On court five, the action will be between Begemann from Germany and Ebden from Australia, fighting it out to the finish against Udomchocke and Amir Weintraub from Israel.

American James Cerretani and Canadian Adil Shamasdin will play against Ukraine’s Sergei Bubka and Slovakian Andrej Martin on court two. On court six, Gilles Muller from Luxemburg and Ludovic Walter will let their racquets do the talking.

In the women’s tournament, South African Chanel Simmonds will serve against Bratchikova on centre court. Local lass Natasha Fourouclas will play Serbian Teodora Mircic on court three, while Kim-Alice Grajdek from Germany will take on Kiki Bertens from Netherlands on court five.

The Soweto Open is taking place at the Arthur Ashe Tennis Centre in Central Western Jabavu, Soweto. The finals will take place on Friday, 15 April and Saturday, 16 April. Entrance to the event is free.

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