Alfie Hewett made a confident start to his French Open men’s singles title defence on Wednesday after beating Tom Egberink of the Netherlands 6-1 6-2 on the second day of wheelchair tennis action at Roland Garros.
I surprised myself with my level today. He’d obviously got a match under his belt already, so coming off the back of no matches I didn't really know what to expect. But I think the first game set the standard really. Alfie Hewett
However, there was disappointment for fellow Brits Gordon Reid and Andy Lapthorne, as Reid bowed out in the men’s singles quarter-finals and Lapthorne’s quad doubles title defence with American David Wagner ended in a deciding match tie-break.
After a first-round bye in this year’s 12-strong men’s draw, Hewett showed just why he is world No.1 as the three-time French Open champion began his title defence with a comprehensive victory over Tokyo Paralympic silver medallist Egberink, dropping just the sixth game of the opening set.
Hewett, who withstood a stronger second set challenge from his Dutch opponent as six of the eight games in the set went to deuce, said:
“I surprised myself with my level today. He’d obviously got a match under his belt already, so coming off the back of no matches I didn’t really know what to expect. But I think the first game set the standard really. I was just relentless in every way and that was the plan. I’m still trying to improve my side of my game. Today I think I pretty much nailed what I’ve been working on, so that’s obviously a big relief.”
While Hewett will now play Argentinian third seed Gustavo Fernandez in Thursday’s singles semi-finals, it’s the semi-finals of the men’s doubles alongside Hewett that Reid will focus on after his 6-1 6-4 loss to Japan’s world No.9 Tokito Oda.
Playing his first tournament since the Australian Open after resting an injury, Reid was unable to recover from losing an early break to rising star Oda, but back-to-back games early in the second set kept him in touch with his opponent. However, it was not to be, with Reid now looking ahead to future challenges. He said:
“Physically I felt not too bad well and I’m well rested. I had a little flare up yesterday but today I feel pretty good. I just lacked that edge. I felt I started to find it a little bit more in the second se. I’m just looking forward to getting back with Alfie. I’m excited to bring back the partnership and hopefully I’ll just keep improving.”
The record-breaking partnership of Hewett and Reid, winners of the last nine Grand Slam men’s doubles titles together, have a bye into this year’s semi-finals at the French Open, which features expanded men’s and women’s wheelchair tennis fields of 12 players for the first time.
Thursday’s third day of play in Paris will see Britain’s Andy Lapthorne begin his quest to reach a second Roland Garros quad singles final in three years.
Lapthorne plays Dutch world No.1 Niels Vink and will hope to turn around his fortunes after he and Wagner, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon quad doubles champions, lost out 1-6 6-4 [10-8] to Australian Heath Davidson and Ymanitu Silva of Brazil on their return to Paris.
Quad singles world No. 3 and two-time US Open champion Lapthorne, said:
“It was no good today. It was one of those days and I’ll regroup tonight for tomorrow. I feel my results have been solid in the last 18 months or so. I’m just now looking for that breakthrough when I can beat one of the top two guys again. I feel like I’m getting close.”
Thursday’s third day of play in Paris also sees British No.1 Lucy Shuker begin her women’s doubles title challenge alongside the USA’s Dana Mathewson.