Australian Open | Hewett races into second men’s singles wheelchair final as Brits eye three doubles titles.

Alfie Hewett was in imperious form on Tuesday as he booked his place in his second successive Australian Open men’s wheelchair tennis singles final with a 61 61 victory over Stephane Houdet of France at Melbourne Park.

To be in another Grand Slam final is, of course, a great feeling, but I’m not going to rest there. The job’s not done yet. We’ve got the doubles against Gustavo and Shingo tomorrow and then the singles final. Two more matches to go and I’m feeling up for it. Alfie Hewett

World No.2 Hewett will now face world No.1 Shingo Kunieda in Thursday’s final, while Andy Lapthorne and Lucy Shuker will focus solely on Wednesday’s doubles finals after their quad singles and women’s singles challenges came to an end in semi-finals against world No.1-ranked opponents.

Hewett, who also partners Gordon Reid in Wednesday’s men’s doubles final, will contest his tenth Grand Slam singles final after needing just 58 minutes to beat world No.5 Houdet.

Britain’s three-time French Open and two-time US Open champion said:

“I really wanted to come here and enjoy my time here and I think the tennis is speaking volumes. Today I wanted to be clinical from the very first point. If I had to rate it I’d probably give it a nine. I feel like I’m returning well and I feel like I can really use my serve more as a weapon rather than wait for the opportunities (for winners) on the third ball. That match today is going to give me a lot of confidence going into the final.”

A total of 60 winners during the match, including five aces, compared to Houdet’s 33 winners, summed up the quality of Hewett’s performance, which he completed with a trademark backhand down the line. He added:

“To be in another Grand Slam final is, of course, a great feeling, but I’m not going to rest there. The job’s not done yet. We’ve got the doubles against Gustavo and Shingo tomorrow and then the singles final. Two more matches to go and I’m feeling up for it.”

Andy Lapthorne plays a backhand during his Men's Quad Wheelchair Singles Semifinals

Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Lapthorne went into his quad singles semi-final against seven-time Australian Open champion Dylan Alcott hoping to produce the kind of performance that saw him beat Alcott for the loss of just one game in the 2019 US Open final. However, with Alcott set to retire after this year’s first major of the season, the Australian top see proved to be a difficult opponent.

Lapthorne survived a set point at 5-2 down in the opening set and then created three break points at 5-3, but was unable to take his opportunities. Ultimately, Alcott had most of the answers to the questions the Briton posed and while Lapthorne saved two match points, Alcott would not be denied, wrapping up a 63 60 win.

Having shared many historic moments on court with Alcott over the years, Lapthorne said:

“Dylan’s a very strong player and you can’t afford to make the mistakes I made. The level from me has just not been there this week. I was beaten by the better player on the day. He played great tennis. He pushed me back and served well.

“The US Open against him in 2019 was probably the best I’ve ever played,” added Lapthorne. “I was nowhere near that level today. But we’ve shared some amazing moments together on some massive courts all around the word and smashed class ceilings together. We played the first Wimbledon quad final, won the first Wimbledon quad doubles title together and played each other in the first wheelchair final on Rod Laver Arena here in 2017. I’ve got the doubles final tomorrow, so will get ready for that now. To leave here with another doubles title would be really nice.”

With Hewett, Lapthorne and Shuker all featuring in Wednesday’s men’s, women’s and quad doubles finals, Shuker will have the opportunity to take on world No.1 Diede de Groot again, after putting up a creditable performance against the top seed in her singles semi-final.

Lucy Shuker oin action during Singles Semi-finals

Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Shuker recovered from dropping the opening set to win the first two games of the second set and fought back from 5-3 down to level the set at 5-5. However, De Groot finally wore down the British No.1’s defences to earn a 60 75 win.

After contesting her third Australian Open singles semi-final and the fourth Grand Slam singles semi-final of her career, world No.9 Shuker said:

“The first set Diede was pretty on it. Her balls were coming through heavy. But in the second set I was getting myself in positions to get a bit more of a strike on the ball and Diede was making more mistakes. So you’ve got to take some confidence from that for the doubles final and for going forward when I go back to training.”

Wednesday’s Australian Open doubles finals will see Hewett and Reid take on Gustavo Fernandez and Kunieda as the Brits aim for a third successive men’s doubles title at Melbourne Park, while Lapthorne and his American partner David Wagner will bid for their fourth Australian Open quad doubles title against Dutch top seeds Sam Schroder and Niels Vink. Shuker and Japan’s Yui Kamiji also face the Dutch top seeds in the women’s doubles final as they come up against De Groot and Aniek van Koot.



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.