Britain’s Alfie Hewett has been crowned Bath Indoor men’s singles champion after triumphing over Stefan Olsson in straight sets 6-0 6-4.
So many things I’ve been working on came together this week and it’s a nice feeling knowing that all of that hard work has paid off. Alfie Hewett
In a year which has seen the 19-year-old from Norwich rocket up the rankings, this latest title win adds to the amazing success he has already enjoyed on court this year, including picking up his first Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros.
And it’s not over yet – as he has qualified for and will be competing in both of the big year-end tournaments – the doubles and singles Masters – in the next two weeks.
Hewett said: ‘It feels really good having had that six week training block and working really hard and then coming here to my first tournament back and winning.
“My overall game I’m confident in but there’s definitely certain shots and certain patterns of play that I’m still really not 100% on. I think there’s still a lot I can work on but that’s only a good thing.
“But so many things I’ve been working on came together this week and it’s a nice feeling knowing that all of that hard work has paid off.”
And as soon as his match was over and the title won Hewett (or big Alfie as we’ll call him here) took the time out to meet little Alfie, who had come to try wheelchair tennis at the event and was watching on as the British number one claimed the 18th singles title of his career.
Big Alfie will have to watch out though when little Alfie starts competing because his younger namesake was whizzing around the court with some speed as soon as he got on it – time to get some sprint training in to keep up with him I think big Alfie.
Serve percentage up – check
Hewett has made no secret of the fact that he has been disappointed in his serve during this tournament so looking on, we as spectators (and no doubt Hewett on court) breathed a collective sigh of relief when for the first time this week he held his first service game – the Alfie we were used to seeing was back and you could see him relaxing into the match and growing in confidence.
He said: “I haven’t really had a serve all week but it was definitely a lot better in the final.
“I really kind of sat down and worked on it with Stuart this morning after the semi-final and it was way more consistent so that was a really good positive but I’m still going to go back and work on it so that I can consistently do it.
“Because the first serve matters, the second serve these other top guys just attack it so I need to make those first serves count and you definitely saw a much higher percentage today.”
One of the things that was noticeable about the Hewett serve in the final as well was that he was still striving to get the power he wanted behind it, as with his other matches this week, but the way he approached and took it during matchplay, especially in those high pressure moments, was different and it was most definitely one of the things that made the difference.
He continued: “I tried to be really disciplined with my technique because what I was finding in my other matches was I was throwing the ball too far behind my head and trying to hit flat hard off that which won’t work but I was panicking and starting to hit it a lot without taking a step back and thinking.
“I think there was one point in that first game today though that I put the ball up like ten times before I went for it because it wasn’t in the right position and it was much better.
“I was clear in what I wanted to do and I was clear where I wanted it to be and how I wanted to hit the ball and once I found that range I found it better, not easier, but better yes and I was more consistent in getting that first serve in.”
Play those big points – check
In tennis there are always those points that can make a difference to a game, set or match and there were two key points in the final in Bath where this was demonstrated perfectly.
The first came early on, in the second game of the first set, and whilst it didn’t determine the first set it had a lot of influence on how it played out.
After returning to deuce eight times Hewett hit one of his bullying backhand winners and eventually got the break taking him 2-0 up .
The 2017 Roland Garros champion then went on to take the set 6-0, but he was not going to rest on his first set laurels as at this level you cannot underestimate any opponent after you’ve got a bagel.
He said: “Look at me the other day against Jo (Joachim Gerard) I lost the first set 6-0 and then came back to win it.
“I was prepared for the second set for Stefan to come out fighting and be much more like the Stefan who beat Gusti (Gustavo Fernandez) in the semi-finals and he did and ended up at 4-2 up at one point”
And it was when Olsson was 4-2 up that we saw the next big point and the one that possibly decided the second set and subsequently the match.
Hewett continued: “That was a big moment.
“I knew that if I lost that service game Stefan would have gone 5-2 up and then gone on to take the second set.
“But I knew that if I could keep just one game behind him I was confident I could break his serve.
“That game was big.”
The eventual champion successfully held his serve which kick started a four game run which saw him take the second set, the match and the Bath Indoor title.
Celebrate in style – check
Hewett has had the opportunity to celebrate many big wins this year and he has sometimes taken to Twitter and Instagram to share them with fans, as well as thank them for their support.
We have seen him eating pizza and being invited onto the pitch at Norwich City – the Championship side he supports amongst other things.
So how did he celebrate the win in Bath before he jets off to Holland for his next tournament later this week?
Well with ice-cream of course!