Nottingham | Disappointment for Lapthorne as Vink, De Groot and Kuneida claim titles
Niels Vink and Diede de Groot of the Netherlands secured a Dutch double on Sunday’s sixth and final day of the 30th British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships before Shingo Kunieda of Japan completed a memorable week at the Nottingham Tennis Centre by claiming his seventh British Open men’s singles title.
It’s always hard to lose in finals, but it was a good match. I’ve played some tough three-setters this week, winning two of them and almost coming through this one. I had my chances in the third set but just didn’t take them. It was high-quality tennis for the crowd and well done to Niels at 16-yer-old. Credit to him. Andy Lapthorne
Hopes were high that the latest edition of the Super Series event on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, which is part of the LTA’s summer series of major events, would end with a British singles champion.
World No. 3 Andy Lapthorne went into the quad singles final leading 16-year-old Vink 2-0 after ther previous two meetings. Unable to build on a 4-2 first set lead, Lapthorne forced a decider after setting up set point with a perfectly executed lob, but Vink answered in kind with a precision lob of his own to earn his first championship point. Lapthorne saved two match points, but he was unable to salvage a third and Vink’s first ever Super Series tournament ended in a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 victory
After completing the quad singles and quad doubles ‘double’ for a brace of British Open titles, Vink said:
“It’s amazing to win my first Super Series titles at my very first Super Series tournament. I was nervous and my emotions were going up and down in the match but I brought them back to get the win. At the end of the second set and the beginning of the third set I was a little bit down because I made a lot of mistake. But I tried to stay positive.“
Lapthorne, who has now finished runner-up at the British Open in five of the last six years said:
“It’s always hard to lose in finals, but it was a good match. I’ve played some tough three-setters this week, winning two of them and almost coming through this one. I had my chances in the third set but just didn’t take them. It was high-quality tennis for the crowd and well done to Niels at 16-yer-old. Credit to him.”
World No.1 De Groot also completed the women’s singles and doubles ‘double’ after beating fellow Dutchwoman and first-time British Open finalist Marjolein Buis 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
Defending champion De Groot raced to a 4-1 lead before Buis put a forehand in the net to close the opening set. However, just as she had done in their Wimbledon quarter-final two weeks ago, world No.4 Buis claimed the second set after successive forehand errors from De Groot
The reigning champion started the final set strongly, leading 5-0 before Buis retrieved one of the breaks against her. However, Buis misjudged a De Groot forehand that landed on the edge of her baseline to bring up a first championship point. But it was one of Buis’s own forehands that ultimately missed its target as De Groot cinched her second successive British open title on her second championship point.
Whilst admitting that she is now looking forward to a week’s break from wheelchair tennis, De Groot said:
“It feels very good to be back in Nottingham and to end the week with two titles. It’s been a really nice week.
“Marjolein stepped up her game in the second set and played the right shots at the right moment, so it was really nice to get a good start in the final set and I continued on from that. I think the intentions of the points I played in those last few games were good, but the way I played them was not always good. After losing two games in a row I knew I needed to be on top of it, but still play with the same intentions.”
British Open winners in the last two years, world No.1 Gustavo Fernandez and world No.2 Kunieda served up a rematch of their recent Wimbledon men’s singles final to warm the crowds as rain forced play indoors for the second successive day.
Defending champion Kunieda came from 2-1 down to take the opening set, putting away his second set point with a short cross-court forehand winner.
The top seed continued in the ascendancy and served out to love to earn a second 5-3 lead. Drama ensued as Fernandez kept alive his hopes of a second British Open title in three years with a scintillating backhand down the line winner. But a cross-court forehand pass set up Kunieda’s second set point and Fernandez finally succumbed as he hit his next forehand return into the net to give Kunieda a 6-3, 6-4 victory,
After claiming his seventh British Open men’s title, Kunieda paid tribute to his opponent. He said:
“Today’s match was very important to me because I have lost two times in a row to Gustavo. Gustavo, you give me a lot of motivation and energy so I want to improve more because of you. I have had many good results here, so it is a lucky place for me.”
The last day of action at the Nottingham Tennis Centre also saw the conclusion of the British Open Junior Championships, with Ross Gourley winning the singles title and Abbie Breakwell and Greg Slade claiming the doubles title.
The British Open Junior Championships featured many of Britain’s leading junior players, with the singles and doubles champions among the players on the LTA’s Junior Futures Potential and Junior Futures Potential Programmes.