Congratulations to South African wheelchair tennis player Donald Ramphadi who has been invited to participate in the 2022 Australian Open. He was awarded a wildcard into the quad’s main draw and will 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,” says Ramphadi. “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. 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, by making the semi-finals of International Tennis Federation (ITF) level 2 events in France and Italy. He won the South Africa Spring Open singles title at Ellis Park in Johannesburg and finishing the year ranked World number 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,” Ramphadi notes.
In October last year, the South Africa quad team, spearheaded by Ramphadi, won a bronze medal at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Sardinia, Italy. He defeated some big names during the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis team event – including six-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one David Wagner, and Japanese world number six Koji Sugeno.
The top seven ranked quad players at the ranking cut-off, plus Ramphadi, make up the eight players who will play for the singles and doubles titles at Melbourne Park from January 23 to 27.
“I will be competing with the top seven ranked players in the world, so I know there won’t be easy matches,” Ramphadi says. “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.”
Ramphadi will warm up for the Australian Open by playing the Victorian Open ITF 1 Series, which took place from January 8 to 12, and the Melbourne Open Super Series from January 15 to 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.