Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid secured their latest chapter in the tennis history books on Wednesday at the Australian Open when they won their third successive Australian Open men’s wheelchair doubles title, extending their tally of consecutive Grand Slam titles together to nine. Hewett and Reid beat Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Shingo Kunieda of Japan 62 46 [10-7] at Melbourne Park.
We went into it (the match tie-break) with a bit of momentum shift, going 5-4 up and we thought we'd sort of switched it around. So the rain delay came at a bit of an awkward time. We did well, it just shows our strength as a team to bounce back from that and to get the win. Alfie Hewett
In winning their 14th title together at one of the sport’s four majors, Hewett and Reid surpassed the record of eight consecutive Grand Slam titles in the open era achieved by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver from Wimbledon 1983 – Roland Garros 1985. Reflecting on the three Australian Open titles, 14 Grand Slam crowns together, and nine in a row, Reid said:
“It means a lot. Yeah, that’s pretty amazing when you list it like that. You know, I think sometimes we don’t let it sink in. Kind of each one as it comes now. We’re getting used to it a little bit more. But, yeah, we are just really proud of it. I think especially last week (at the Melbourne Open Super Series) was one of our most challenging ones to win, I think with injury and the lack of time I could get on court over the last couple of weeks.”
With Reid having been contending with a wrist injury in the lead up to the Australian Open, he added:
“I think that shows our strength as a team and our mental strength as well that we could find a way to get through the matches this week.”
Hewett and Reid etched out a 4-2 cushion on their way to taking the opening set but were unable to capitalise on a 4-2 lead in the second as Fernandez and Kuieda forced the deciding match tie-break.
The race to 10 points in the match tie-break saw Hewett and Reid battle back from 4-2 down to lead, 5-4, only for a rain delay to interrupt their progress. However, when play resumed the top seeds soon found their rhythm again to maintain their unbeaten record in Melbourne against Fernandez and Kunieda.
Hewett, who plays world number 1 Kunieda in Thursday’s men’s singles final, said:
“We went into it (the match tie-break) with a bit of momentum shift, going 5-4 up and we thought we’d sort of switched it around. So the rain delay came at a bit of an awkward time. We did well, it just shows our strength as a team to bounce back from that and to get the win.”
Andy Lapthorne and David Wagner defeated the number 1 seeds and Paralympic and US Open champions Sam Schroder and Niels Vink 26 64 [10-7] to reclaim the quad doubles title in Melbourne. This is the pair’s fourth Australian Open quad wheelchair doubles title together, having previously won in 2014, 2015 and 2017.
Fifteen-time Grand Slam champion Lapthorne, who has now won six Australian Open doubles titles in total after back-to-back wins in 2011 and 2012 with fellow Brit Peter Norfolk, said:
“I think from the celebration at the end you could see how much that one meant to me. It was a tough proposition before the match to play those two guys. They can clean you off the court pretty quick if you’re not playing well.”
In the women’s doubles final, Lucy Shuker and Yui Kamiji put up a tremendous effort before ultimately losing out to Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot 75 36 [10-2].
After contesting her ninth Grand Slam double final, Shuker said:
“I think we played some really good tennis together. We moved and covered the court well and we were striking (the ball) well. Maybe just a couple of errors in the first cost us that that first set, having been up. But then a great second set, we cut the errors out and our balls were causing them problems. It was just a bit of a sloppy third set (match tie-break), unfortunately.”
Hewett has the chance to make it a double trophy celebration when he plays Kunieda in the men’s singles final. The world’s top two ranked singles players have previously played each other 25 times, with Kunieda marginally having the head-to-head lead at 13 wins to 12.