The ever-positive South African world number three quad ace Lucas Sithole is positive he can end the Paralympic qualification period on a high note as he prepares to depart for the Japan Open, an International Tennis Federation (ITF) Super Series tournament to be staged in Lizuka from 17-22 May 2016.
“The super series tournaments are very important and count a lot especially in a Paralympic year, this is one of the tournaments which will prepare me very well ahead of Rio with the chance to measure myself against the top four in the world,” commented Sithole.
At just 29 years old, Sithole has achieved virtually every accolade there is in professional wheelchair tennis, including the U.S. Open title in 2013 and doubles title at the Australian Open this year, plus an unfaltering world number three ranking. The Kwa-Zulu Natal star hopes to make history in Rio de Janeiro and believes a good performance at the Japan Open will set him up.
“I can confidently say that I am prepared to go all the way in Japan after finishing in the semi-final round last year,” said Sithole.
Sithole sealed a doubles title win with partner Dylan Alcott from Australia at last year’s event and lost to the Australian in the singles semi-final round.
After Alcott ended Sithole’s title defense at the Airports Company South Africa SA Open, the world number three plans to stage an aggressive game and turn the tables around.
“I played okay at Ellis Park last month, but every week is a different test, a different story. I’m working hard to change the dynamic and feel ready to fight in Lizuka and reclaim the title after winning the 2014 Japan Open singles title,” added Sithole.
The two-times Grand Slam winner will take part in the BNP Paribas World Team Cup following the Super Series together with teammates Bongani Dlamini and Danny Mohlamonyane. The World Team Cup will be contested in Tokyo from 23-28 May.