Kgothatso Montjane: 'Wimbledon wheelchair finals answered my Tokyo doubts'

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Wheelchair tennis players Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa (left) and her British doubles partner Lucy Shuker with their Wimbledon runners-up trophiesMontjane and her British doubles partner Lucy Shuker were women's wheelchair doubles runners-up at Wimbledon

Kgothatso Montjane may have lost two wheelchair finals at Wimbledon last weekend but the experience has sky-rocketed her confidence ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics, the South African says.

Montjane lost out to Japan's Yui Kamiji and Britain's Jordanne Whiley in the doubles alongside British partner Lucy Shuker on Saturday, and to Diede de Groot of the Netherlands in the singles on Sunday.

The 35-year-old was the first African to reach a Grand Slam wheelchair singles final and she says this year's Wimbledon experience has helped preparations for her third Paralympics.

"I feel it's quite a confidence booster and it happened at the right time just before Tokyo," she told BBC World Service's Newsday programme.

"I feel like this year I had so many questions about myself in terms of Tokyo: 'Are you ready? What's going on? Are you moving ahead? Where are you going to get?' So I feel like I have got the answers that I was looking for.

"From now on, I can only work even harder, and keep building up the belief and managing the level of confidence.

"Not forgetting that there's a goal going into Tokyo, but the most important thing is to enjoy the Games."

Montjane, the first African wheelchair tennis player to qualify for all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year (2018), has never progressed past the second round in her previous Paralympics.

She reached her first grand slam final this year after losing five previous semi-finals at the Australian, French and US Opens, with her first loss dating back to 2013.

Mental battle

South African wheelchair tennis star Kgothatso Montjane trainingMontjane, 35, was the first African to contest a Grand Slam wheelchair singles final at this year's Wimbledon

Montjane, who has been playing for 16 years, feels that it is the psychological side of her game she needs to focus on before the Paralympics begin on 24 August.

Now ranked a career-high fifth in the world, the left hander believes that getting the mental and physical sides of her game at the same level can deliver a medal.

"It really boosted me to get that far (at Wimbledon) and honestly, from where I'm standing right now, I think it's pretty much possible to get far in the Paralympics and I just can't wait," she insisted.

"We play on a hard court and that's the surface I love the most. I just need to keep believing more - it's all in the head because I'd like to think that physically my game is there.

"I need to push harder mentally and find all those pieces I'm looking for on court, keep believing I can do it because I create opportunities, but sometimes I don't get to convert them.

"It's just about fixing my head and being in the right state of mind, because it's really possible for me to make it in Tokyo."

As she finalises her preparations, Montjane has returned home to Pretoria from where she is relishing her return to top-level competition.

"I'm just so excited with everything that has happened, and am looking forward to the Games more than anything."

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