Scheepers wins all-SA clash
Chanelle Scheepers (Gallo Images)
Watch a squirrel interrupt the US Open match between Sabine Lisicki and Vera Dushevina.
Cape Town - On Court 15 at the US Open in New York late on Tuesday, the South African flag was flying high.
South Africa’s top female tennis players, Chanelle Scheepers (ranked 85th in the world) and Chanel Simmonds (165th) were drawn to battle against each other in the opening round of the last major of the year.
For Scheepers it was a “crunch” match as she has battled this year with injury. Her ranking has slipped out of the top 60 and the 29-year-old is desperate to end the season on a high note.
For Simmonds, the 21-year-old Kempton Park rising star had nothing to lose. Simmonds had played well to qualify for her first Grand Slam and was relishing the opportunity of playing Scheepers.
The two had never played each other before and there was much anticipation about the result.
Scheepers won the match 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and thirty-nine minutes.
Simmonds said that New York had been good for her that she had impressed herself, especially in the qualifying rounds.
“I played a very good match in the opening round of qualifying (v Renata Voracova (CZE), won 7-5, 7-5), a tight match where I won important points. Going into my second round qualies, I felt confident, and even though my opponent (Nina Bratchikova (RUS), won 6-0, 6-2) was carrying an injury I was pleased with the way I played and won the match. In the final round qualies, I played what was probably the biggest ‘grind’ match of my life. Playing an American (Taylor Townsend (USA), won 6-2, 2-6, 7-5) in New York is never easy as you have to play the player and the crowd. I had to fight back from 1-4 down in the decider against Taylor to win and qualify, so that felt real good.”
Against Scheepers, Simmonds said she had started well and found it hard to believe that she had won the opening set 6-2 in less than 30 minutes.
“I played so well in that opening set! The two very long games in the second set which I lost changed the momentum and gave Chani the confidence to split sets and run away as the winner.”
Scheepers was pleased to have won the match.
“It was a big opening match. When I saw we had drawn each other I knew it was going to be a crunch match. Chanel is playing some great ball and got to the final of the Soweto Open on the hard courts which she likes, so for me, it was a good win, especially coming back from a shaky and nervous start. Chanel is a great striker of the ball and has a great future ahead of her.”
Scheepers said it was great that Simmonds had qualified for the US Open.
“For far too long I have been the lone South African woman carrying the rainbow flag in the singles at the majors. I’m happy that Chanel has made this breakthrough, and I think it is great that Chanel and I could represent our country, not only in the major, but at the same time! I hope to see her in more majors.”
In the second round, Scheepers will play former world No 1, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the tournament’s sixth seed.