London | Brit trio of Bailey, Hewett and Reid make wheelchair semis.
Brits Dermot Bailey, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid will all feature in Saturday’s men’s wheelchair singles semi-finals at the Fever-Tree Championships after three dominant displays of tennis on Friday at The Queen’s Club in London.
It’s certainly an experience playing on grass for the first time, especially here at Queen’s. It was really good to play the first match and obviously to win it as well. I think I just managed to win the very important points to be honest. Dermot Bailey
After a highly successful day for the trio of players, who are part of the LTA’s GB Wheelchair Tennis World Class Performance Programme, Bailey will play Hewett in the last four and Reid will face Stefan Olsson of Sweden, the winner of last year’s exhibition singles event.
The first grass-court wheelchair tennis ranking tournament to take place outside of Wimbledon, this week’s event is the first time that British No.3 Bailey has played competitively on grass, but the 25-year-old proved highly proficient as he wrapped up a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Frenchman Geoffrey Jasiak despite some closely-fought games.
After booking his place in the last four, world No.36 Bailey said: “It’s certainly an experience playing on grass for the first time, especially here at Queen’s. It was really good to play the first match and obviously to win it as well. I think I just managed to win the very important points to be honest.
“It’s a different level to everywhere else I’ve experienced on the Wheelchair Tennis Tour to be honest and the Grand Slams are a level above this. Obviously it’s a new experience for me and hopefully it’ll become a less of a rare occasion in the future.”
World No. 3 Hewett raced to an even quicker victory, defeating Frederic Cattaneo of France 6-0, 6-1 in just 41 minutes.
Hewett, a semi-finalist in The Queen’s Club exhibition event in 2018 along with Reid, said: “It was a really good first match on the grass. I haven’t spent too long on it practising. I took some time off at the French (Open) so I’ve only been playing on it for three or four days. It’s a really tough surface to get around so I’m really happy because I felt quite strong out there. My work level, the way I moved around the court and my intensity was really high and that’s what got me through the game.”
Reid recovered well from a stuttering start against another Frenchman, Gaetan Menguy, to ease to the opening set of his quarter-final and although the former Wimbledon champion may not have been at his best, he dropped just one point in the last three games to wrap up a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Reid, the inaugural Wimbledon wheelchair men’s singles champion in 2016, said: “It’s fantastic. We had an exhibition here last year – the first time we were part of this event – so it was great to turn that into an international tournament this year.
“I was about finding my way with the grass today. Because of the weather this week, we’d not had a chance to train on the grass until this morning. So I was just getting used to the way the ball was getting through the court and finding the movement is the thing that’s most different for us. Once I got that out of the way in the first set, I relaxed more in the second set and started playing some good stuff.”
Both Olsson and his doubles partner this week, Joachim Gerard of Belgium, struggled with their service games at times throughout their quarter-final, but Olsson always looked in control of the match to seal a 6-4, 6-4 win.
Olsson, who beat Hewett in the semi-finals of last year’s exhibition tournament, said: “It’s always difficult to face Joachim. He’s a nice guy and you don’t want to take him out, but you kind of have to! I think we played a solid match, just two breaks and I was glad to get them both. I’m playing well.”