Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid made it a clean sweep when it came to British success on the opening day of their ABM AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament campaigns.
Having been given byes in the opening rounds of both the singles and doubles competition at this years event, they had to wait until day three to showcase their skill, but when the time came they did it in style.
Hewett, who was playing his first competitive singles match after his World number one ranking was announced, kick started a day which saw at least one British player come out victorious in all three matches which involved them with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Belgium’s Joachim Gerard.
And defending singles champion Reid quickly followed that up with a win of his own, coming out on top in his meeting with France’s Nicolas Peifer 6-3, 6-3 in what was a re-run of last years final.
The pair then joined forces later in the day to book their spot in what will be their third doubles final of 2018 together with victory over South Africa’s Evan’s Maripa and France’s Frederic Cattaneo in straight sets 6-1, 6-4
They’ll meet another of the sports top doubles partnerships in that final, Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson, after they defeated top seeds and defending champions Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer 7-6 (3), 6-2 in their semi-final.
And with Hewett and Reid both through to the semi-finals and on the same side of the draw, it will mean as it was in 2017 that there is guaranteed to be a British player in all of the wheelchair finals at the ITF1 tournament in Rotterdam.
Another all-British semi-final anyone?
We’ve seen them before and indeed they became a part of many tournaments on the UNIQLO wheelchair tennis tour in 2017.
With Britain now boasting both Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid amongst the best of the best In the sport there’s always a chance they will end up on the same side of the draw and will have to play each other in a semi-final at some point at any competition.
And, in what will be a re-run of the quarter-final that happened here only 12 months ago, which saw Reid come through in straight sets, it’s about to happen here in Rotterdam.
Hewett made his way to this point by overcoming a player who he is building up an impressive record against, in fact you would have to go back to the 2016 Masters to find the last time Gerard was able to get the win over the World number one.
The British number one starting strong again in this exchange against the Belgian gaining in confidence throughout.
It wasn’t a faultless performance from Hewett by any means, who at one point was a set and 5-1 up and only needed to hold his serve to close out the match.
However at that point he let Gerard get back into the second set and go on a three game run to take it to 5-4 before he then broke the Belgian’s serve to take the game, set and match.
What it was though was a perfect masterclass in the style of tennis we are using to seeing the 20-year-old Brit play – fearless, full of fight and demonstrating a refusal to give up until the very last point that sees him pull out world class performance after world-class performance consistently.
Reid in comparison had a slightly easier road to tomorrows all-Brit semi-final which saw him put in a dominant display against last years runner-up Nicolas Peifer.
Peifer, who is a player that has all the shots and the potential to be the best in the world, never really seemed to get into this exchange and from early on you got the sense that momentum was firmly with the British number two, who saved two break points in the final game to take the match comfortably in straight sets.
The win means that Reid’s bid to become the first three time champion in the wheelchair draw at this event in Rotterdam is still very much alive and well.
The Doubles dream continues into 2018
Another sight that’s becoming familiar on finals weekends on tour is that of Hewett and Reid joining forces to battle it out for the doubles title.
And it’s one reason why the two Brits have the reputation as one of the teams to beat on tour.
Their consistency as a partnership is impressive and it’s something that really helped them today when they came up against Maripa and Cattaneo in the semifinals.
In contrast the South African / French duo whilst hitting some inspired shots at points, especially when their backs were against the wall, just couldn’t find a consistent level today.
And as the unforced errors began to creep into their game more, the dynamic duo from Britain took their chances and with lethal precision raced to a 4-0 lead in both sets before their opponents got a game on the board.
Just like we have to see in any well crafted drama though, a Hewett and Reid match has to give us a moment of tension and that came in the final game.
At 40-30 up in the tenth game of the second set they had their first match point but Maripa and Cattaneo, determined to keep their second set hopes alive, found a way back in and took it to deuce.
But the British pair are used to turning it on during high pressure moments and when it came to the deciding point Hewett fired out a stunning serve to close out the match.
Tomorrows final will see them take on a pair who they have shared some brilliant on court battles with, Gerard and Olsson.