Sunday’s men’s singles finalists Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Shingo Kunieda of Japan combined with great effect to win their first men’s doubles title at the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships on Saturday, defeating Brits Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5 after a pulsating title decider at the Nottingham Tennis Centre.
On a day when the majority of play took place indoors due to rain, Britain’s Jordanne Whiley and Yui Kamiji of Japan were also runners-up in the women’s doubles to Dutch top seeds Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot, while Niels Vink and Lucas Sithole claimed the quad doubles title.
Hewett and Reid battled back from 3-1 down to take the opening set of the men’s double final in a tie-break but the reigning US Open champions and 2015 British Open champions could not build on a 2-0 lead in the final set. The Brits were two points from victory at 5-4 up in the decider, but reigning Roland Garros champions and last year’s British Open runners-up Fernandez and Kunieda held on, with Kunieda wrapping up a 6-7(5), 6-1, 7-5 victory as he put away a backhand volley.
Kunieda, who partnered Fernandez to their first British Open doubles title together, said: “It is very good for us. We have the confidence from having won at Roland Garros now and today we played very good tennis.”
With the world’s top two ranked players now going head-to-head in Sunday’s men’s singles final, Fernandez said:
“We both know each other very well, so both of us will enjoy this win for now and when we go to bed we will start thinking about tomorrow. It’s going to be a big battle.”
Hewett said: “There are a lot of positives to take from the match. A lot of things that we’ve been working on in training went well today, we just needed to be a little bit more clinical and consistent on the bigger points.”
The women’s doubles final began outside on the LTA hard court event’s Centre Court, with nine-time Grand Slam doubles champions Whiley and Kamiji recovering from 3-0 down to have advantage point at 5-5 before rain stopped play.
When the match resumed indoors, Whiley and Kamiji managed to take the set to a tie-break, but were unable to take full advantage of a 2-0 second set lead and reigning Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon champions De Groot and Van Koot sealed their latest major title 7-6(4), 6-4.
Currently reigning Wimbledon singles and doubles champion, Van Koot said: “It’s always amazing to win here. I was gutted about my singles yesterday (when Van Koot lost out to fellow Dutchwoman Marjolein Buis), but this makes up for it.
“Personally, I was very happy to go indoors. It’s a good court if you like to play forward and aggressively and I think I did better with my forehand indoors.”
After reaching the quarter-finals of the women’s singles before bowing out to world No.1 De Groot and then contesting only her second British Open women’s doubles final, Whiley said: “It was a big difference once we went indoors because Aniek and Deide are big, flat hitters so when the hven’t got the elements to contend with thy are strong players.
“And Yui doesn’t particularly like having a roof when she plays her high balls. It wasn’t as if it was a bad performance, but I struggled to find my finishing shots today and that made a big difference.
But I’ve performed well in all my matches this week and the margins against the top players now are a lot smaller than when I began my comeback from maternity leave five months ago.”
The penultimate day of play at the Super Series event on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, which is part of the LTA’s summer series of major events, also saw 16-year-old Dutchman Niels Vink and South Africa’s Lucas Sithole lift the quad doubles title. Sithole and Vink beat Korean Kyu-Seung Kim and Japans Koji Sugeno 6-1, 6-4.
After winning his British Open quad doubles title, two-time British Open quad singles champion Sithole said: “It feels really good to have another British Open trophy to add to my collection.
“This was only out second tournament together after last week’s Swiss Open and last week really held a lot in the build up to this. No I can understand when he is going to hit a big ball and he also understands how I played now and our communication as awesome.
The 30th British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships draws to a close on Sunday with a fascinating day of singles finals from 10.00am that see Britain’s Andy Lapthorne face Vink in the quad singles final, Fernandez and Kunieda contest a rematch of their recent Wimbledon final and De Groot and Marjolein Buis going head-to-head in an all-Dutch women’s singles final.
Sunday’s action at the Nottingham Tennis Centre also sees the conclusion of the British Open Junior Championships. Meanwhile, Saturday’s action brought a British winner as the Nottingham Futures Wheelchair Tennis Tournament concluded, with former world No.1 junior Lauren Jones victorious in both the women’s singles and doubles.