Alfie Hewett’s bid to complete this year’s Australian Open as men’s singles and men’s doubles champion ended in a gallant three-set loss on Thursday as world No.1 Shingo Kunieda of Japan regained the title after a 7-5 3-6 6-2 win
Obviously getting the doubles yesterday was massive for me and Gordon and I’m not disheartened by my performance today. I can take a lot of confidence from it and there’s still a lot for me to work on Alfie Hewett
Hewett, who partnered Gordon Reid to their third successive Australian Open title and ninth consecutive Grand Slam doubles title on Wednesday, produced another high-level performance as he attempted to add to his two US Open singles title and three French Open singles titles.
After finishing runner-up in the men’s singles at Melbourne Park for the second year in a row, second seed Hewett conceded that he was beaten by the better player on the day. He said:
“In the third set I think I was beaten by the better player. I didn’t do too much wrong. I maybe could have been braver and gone for it earlier in the rally, but then you do that and you put more pressure on yourself and it can cause forced or unforced errors.”
“I tried to wear him down in that third set but he didn’t want to play ball. I’ve never seen a guy paint so many lines before. I don’t think I was 100 per cent on it in that third set but in the first I was 5-4 up and serving for it and maybe if I’d been a little more clinical in that game it might have been a 6-4, 6-3.”
Hewett made a slow start to the final but fought back from 3-0 down to lead 5-4 before Kunieda snatched the opener in 49 minutes.
Renowned for his comebacks, Hewett produced some of his best tennis to open a 4-0 lead in the second set and hit three clean winners in the space of five points to take the set.
But Kunieda started the third set with a renewed intensity and earned a 5-1 lead before Hewett saved four match points. However, on Kunieda’s fifth match point Hewett’s attempt at a lob missed its intended target. The world No.2 added:
“Obviously getting the doubles yesterday was massive for me and Gordon and I’m not disheartened by my performance today. I can take a lot of confidence from it and there’s still a lot for me to work on.”
Thursday’s wheelchair tennis singles finals bring to a close another highly successful Grand Slam tournament for British players.
Not only did Hewett and Reid win their third men’s doubles title at Melbourne Park with victory over Kunieda and Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez, they created history as their ninth successive Grand Slam title saw them take the record for the partnership with the longest winning streak at the Grand Slams. They are unbeaten at the majors since losing their 2019 Wimbledon final.
Andy Lapthorne also claimed his sixth Australian Open quad singles title and his fourth with American David Wagner after they upset Dutch top seeds and reigning Paralympic and US Open champions Sam Schroder and Niels Vink.
Lucy Shuker also came closer than ever before to clinching her first Grand Slam title as he and Japan’s Yui Kamiji too Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot to a deciding match tie-break.