- Alfie Hewett made single final in Melbourne
- Lucy Shuker made doubles final in Melbourne
- Andy Lapthorne made semi-final in Quads
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – Alfie Hewett reached the singles final of the season opening Wheelchair event, the warm up competition before the Australian Open.
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Alfie Hewett started the Australian swing season at the Victorian Wheelchair open. The Brit was unseeded. His first round opponent was second seed Gustavo Fernández. The Argentine struggled in the first set, as Hewett totally dominated proceedings. The Brit didn’t lose a game all set. The second set was much closer as the Argentine found his game. However, Hewett still managed to get the necessary break and stormed into the next round in straight sets 6-0, 7-5.
The semi-final pitched Hewett against fellow Brit Gordon Reid. Hewett managed to get the break in the first set to take the lead. Reid tried to mount a fight back in the second set, however, Hewett held his nerve and took the match 6-4, 6-3.
In the final Hewett was against the top seed Shingo Kunieda. The Japanese managed to break Hewett in the first set and held on. Despite trying his best to get back into the match, Hewett was broken again by Kunieda who claimed the title 6-4, 6-3.
In the doubles Hewett & Reid teamed up together and were the top seeds. They faced Fernández & Kunieda in the semi-final. The Brits totally dominated the first set losing only one game. However the Argentine/Japanese pair fought back in the second, taking it to a tiebreak. Fernández & Kunieda dominated the tiebreak to level up the match. The ensuing match tiebreak was very close, however it was not to be for the Brits who lost out 1-6, 7-6(2), 10-8.
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Lucy Shuker entered the event and was unseeded. In the first match the Brit was against South African Kgothatso Montjane. Shuker got off to a shaky start and was unable to hold serve in the first set. The second was much closer as the Brit found her game, unfortunately Montjane secured the vital break needed and took the match 6-0, 7-5.
The doubles saw Shuker and Montjane team up as the second seeds. Their semi-final was against Angelica Bernal & Macarena Cabrillana. The Brit/South African broke in the first set and took the lead. The Colombian/Chilean fought back in the second, taking the set to a tiebreak, which they won. Shuker & Montjane edged the match tiebreak to book a final spot 6-3, 6-7(3), 10-7.
In the final Shuker & Montjane were against Yui Kamiji & Momoko Ohtani. The Japanese pair proved to be just too strong for the Brit/South African. No matter what they tried Shuker & Montjane were just not able to stay on terms. Kamiji & Ohtani took the final 6-2, 6-3.
The quads event saw the long awaited return to the court of Andy Lapthorne. The Brit had taken a break from the sport in October to concentrate on his mental health. Lapthorne had been struggling for nearly a year when he spoke to the press about it.
Despite the break from competitive tennis, Lapthorne was the second seed at the event. His first opponent was American Nicholas Taylor. The Brit totally dominated the American, who only managed to get one game on the board in the whole match. Lapthorne started with a straight sets win 6-0, 6-1.
The semi-final saw the Brit against Australian Heath Davidson. The Australian managed to break Lapthorne in the first set to take the lead. The second set was a little closer, as Lapthorne stayed with Davidson as much as possible. Unfortunately, the Australian managed to secure the break needed to claim the win 6-3, 6-4.
In the doubles Lapthorne teamed up with David Wagner and the pair were the second seeds. The semi-final match was against Sam Schröder & Niels Vink. The seeds got off to a great start and dominated the first set as the Dutch barely got a look in. The second set saw the Dutch pair dominate to level up the match. In the ensuing match tiebreak Schröder & Vink edged ahead to take the match 2-6, 6-1, 10-8.
Overall, a very good week for the Wheelchair Brits in the lead up to the Australian Open.
Next Week Brits play in Australian Open, Biella, Potchefstroom, France, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Kazakhstan & Spain.
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