Centurion, South Africa, 03 January 2022 – South Africa’s leading wheelchair tennis quad player, Donald Ramphadi, is set to make his Grand Slam debut at Melbourne Park later this month. Ramphadi has been awarded a wildcard into the quad’s main draw at the 2022 Australian Open.
“This wildcard means a lot to me. I have been working very hard over the last 10 years of playing tennis and I always had hope that one day I will make it,” said Ramphadi.
“Now that I have been presented with this golden opportunity, it’s amazing and I feel ready to compete at the Grand Slam level.
The 28-year-old from Tzaneen in Limpopo had an impressive finish to 2021 despite the COVID-19 curve-ball, making the semi-finals of International Tennis Federation (ITF) level 2 events in France and Italy, winning the SA Spring Open singles title at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and finishing the year ranked World No.18.
“The last 12 months have been challenging due to COVID-19 as we couldn’t travel much but could only train due to the many travel restrictions.
In October last year, the SA quad team, spearheaded by Ramphadi, won a bronze medal at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Sardinia, Italy. Ramphadi defeated some big names during the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event – including six-time Grand Slam champion and former world No.1 David Wagner, and Japanese world No.6 Koji Sugeno.
The top seven ranked quad players at the ranking cut-off, plus Ramphadi, make up the eight players who will vie for the singles and doubles titles at Melbourne Park from January 23-27.
“I will be competing with the top 7 ranked players in the world, so I know there won’t be easy matches.
“I feel mentally and physically ready to compete at that level. I have been competing with some of these top players at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup and I managed to beat some of them. So, I am ready to play them again,” added Ramphadi.
Ramphadi will warm up for the Australian Open by playing the Victorian Open ITF 1 Series from January 8-12 and Melbourne Open Super Series from January 15-19.
He will fly the South African flag together with the country’s leading women’s player and four-time grand slam finalist, Kgothatso Montjane in the wheelchair event at Melbourne Park.
The Australian Open is the first of the four Grand Slam tournaments on the 2022 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.