Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid, Lucy Shuker and Andy Lapthorne made it a highly successful second day of wheelchair tennis competition for British players at the Australian Open on Monday as all four secured their places in Wednesday’s men’s, women’s and quad doubles finals.
We struggled at the start just with a bit of concentration and while trying to figure out the way that we wanted to approach the match, but we finished the first set pretty strongly and then played the big points well in the second set Gordon Reid
Reigning champions Hewett and Reid booked their place in their third successive men’s doubles final at Melbourne Park after the 13-time Grand Slam winners fought back from 4-2 and 5-3 down in the opening set of their semi-final against Tom Egberink of the Netherlands and Australian Ben Weekes to close out a 75 62 victory in an hour and 30 minutes.
Reid, who slotted home a forehand down the line winner to seal match point, said:
“We struggled at the start just with a bit of concentration and while trying to figure out the way that we wanted to approach the match, but we finished the first set pretty strongly and then played the big points well in the second set.”
Hewett and Reid will play Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez and Shingo Kunieda of Japan in the final, with Hewett also in action on Tuesday when he plays Stephane Houdet of France in the men’s singles semi-finals. Reflecting on the doubles semi-final the world No.2 said:
“I think we just needed to make more balls in court. It’s as simple as that, really. We made a few too many unforced errors in the first couple of games. It’s a little bit breezy and it was quite swirly on the courts, so (we were) just trying to keep the ball in play and be smart with our placement. It was a lot better after the second game and then a couple of really crucial points in that second set were the difference between it being 5-2 or 3-all.”
Shuker has also enjoyed a tremendous two days at Melbourne Park. After reaching her third Australian Open women’s singles semi-final on Sunday, the British No.1 partnered Japan’s Yui Kamiji to defeat Jiske Griffioen of the Netherlands and Zhenzhen Zhu of China 62 63 in their doubles semi-final, giving up just one more game than Shuker did when beating Zhu in her singles quarter-final.
After delivering the final topspin forehand that drew the error off Griffioen’s racket on match point, Shuker said:
“I think that the match was a little bit patchy and a little bit inconsistent, but we’re happy with the win. it’s great playing with Yui. She moves incredibly well. She strikes the ball really well, both in singles and doubles. So to have her on my side of the court, it’s great. I don’t think the match was particularly great. I don’t think it necessarily showcased great tennis from either end, but we made less mistakes than our opponents and executed the game plan reasonably well.”
Shuker and Kamiji will play Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot in Wednesday’s final, with world No.9 Shuker also set to face world No.1 De Groot in Tuesday’s women’s singles semis. The British No.1 added:
“For the final we’re going to need less mistakes, more consistency and a bit more pressure from us. I don’t think Diede and Aniek will let us off if we make mistakes. But I’m looking forward to the challenge and I believe that we can play better than what we played today.”
World No.5 Lapthorne also remains on course in his bid to try and win both the quad singles and quad doubles titles.
Having partnered American David Wagner to win both the French Open and Wimbledon titles in 2021 to become the first partnership to complete a career Grand Slam in quad doubles competition, Lapthorne again joined forces with Wagner as they moved to one win away from a possible fourth Australian Open crown together.
However, they had to work hard for their semi-final win, ultimately coming out on top after a deciding match tie-break to complete a 63 46 [10-6] victory over South Africa’s Donald Ramphadi and Koji Sugeno of Japan.
Lapthorne, who beat Ramphadi in Sunday’s quad singles quarter-finals to set up a semi-final against Dutch second seed Sam Schroder, said:
“I played alright in the first set, but the second set was not great. And then at 7-6 in the match tie-break I hit two forehand winners. So it’s knowing when to try and pull the trigger and those were the moments when I had to step up.”
With Lapthorne and Wagner set to play Dutch top seeds Schroder and Niels Vink in Wednesday’s doubles final and Brits still in the hunt for all six Australian Open wheelchair titles, Lapthorne added:
“In the final I need to trust myself and swing the racket on the forehand. It’s going to be a good match. They’re a tough pair, they can be difficult to beat, but we’ll go in there with confidence and hopefully we can pull it off.”