Alfie Hewett made an emphatic start to his bid to reach a fourth successive US Open men’s singles final after racing past his doubles partner and fellow Brit Gordon Reid 6-0, 6-2 on Thursday’s opening day of wheelchair tennis action at Flushing Meadows.
I didn’t feel like I was under too much threat at all in my service games, so that was a big plus on my side Alfie Hewett
World No.3 Hewett, the two-time defending champion in New York, met Reid for just the second time at the US Open. In 2017 the top two men’s players on the LTA’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme contested the first all-Brit wheelchair singles semi-final at a Grand Slam – a contest that Hewett won in a final set tie-break.
However, the 25th international contest between them could hardly have been much different. After taking a 13-12 lead in their career head-to-head to book a place in Friday’s semi-finals against Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina, 22-year-old Hewett said:
“I expected to go out there and play a lot worse than I did, so to actually play that sort of tennis was probably where I left off on a match court back in February, so I’m very, very happy. My serve was pretty dominant today. I’ve been trying to work on my serve just trying to get a bit more fizz on the ball and accuracy, too. I didn’t feel like I was under too much threat at all in my service games, so that was a big plus on my side.
“This morning we were told we were playing indoors (due to bad weather) and I was training indoors and then 45 minutes before we’re meant to be playing, they tell us it’s outdoors again, so we just had to adapt.”
Hewett edged Reid 7-5, 7-5 a little over a week ago at the LTA Wheelchair Tennis Series at the National Tennis Centre, but Reid conceded that Hewett coped with the New York conditions better than he had himself. The reigning Paralympic champion said:
“It’s one of those things, the better man wins on the day and Alfie played better than me today, so he deserved it. There was different pressure and different atmosphere today. This means a lot to me to play here and it means a lot to Alfie, but I think he dealt with that better today and that was probably more important than the tennis.”
Hewett now plays world No.3 Fernandez in a US Open semi-final for the second time in three years, having won their last-four contest in 2018 7-6, 6-1. Hewett and Reid will then play Fernandez and Kunieda for a place in the men’s doubles final. Hewett said:
“I played Gustavo here a couple of years ago. He’s very aggressive on the ball, so I’m going to have to be very alert on the ball tomorrow and play well.”