Wimbledon | Andy Lapthorne makes quad singles final
Britain’s Andy Lapthorne produced a tremendous performance on Thursday’s historic first day of wheelchair tennis action at The Championships, the world No. 3 beating American David Wagner 7-5, 6-4 to reach Saturday’s first ever Wimbledon quad singles final
It means the world to me, not for me, but for the people that have stuck by me when things get tough. Andy Lapthorne
Lapthorne’s straight sets victory was the highlight of the day for players on the LTA’s GB Wheelchair Tennis World Class Performance Programmme as the Rio Paralympic silver medallist booked his place in the final against Australian world No.1 Dylan Alcott, the player Lapthorne also partners in Friday’s quad doubles final.
A fine start for Lapthorne saw the Londoner move a break ahead with one of many impressive forehand winners and he soon extended his lead to 5-2 before Wagner came back to level the contest. However, Lapthorne regrouped and a searching backhand return forced Wagner into the error that secured the first set.
Lapthorne broke through again midway through the second set and this time he didn’t allow Wagner to get back on terms, a crisp forehand winner bringing up three match points before Wagner fired his next service return over Lapthorne’s baseline.
An elated Lapthorne said: “It’s hard to put into words really. This has come after 10 years of build up just to get here and a lot of people have worked really had to get me here today after I hurt my wrist in Australia. So to come out and play like I did in the first 20 minutes was just surreal, really. From 2-1 down that was probably some of the best tennis I’ve played my whole life.
“To get that first set was really important. In the second I never felt like it was going to go any other way. It means the world to me, not for me, but for the people that have stuck by me when things get tough. To repay everyone with a win here is just massive.”
Looking ahead to the final, Lapthorne said: “I heard the noise coming from Dylan’s court when he won and Saturday’s final is going to be crazy. A lot of my friends were working today, but they’re all set to come on Saturday. I need to sort out a lot of tickets now as I didn’t want to jinx it before today.
“When I played Dylan in the Australian Open final on Rod Laver Arena a couple of years ago I promised I would repay the favour at Wimbledon one day. We’re here now and I’m just looking forward to going out there and giving it my best.”
With Lapthorne and Alcott lining up against Japan’s Koji Sugeno and Wagner in the quad doubles final, Friday’s second day of play will also see Jordane Whiley, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid bid to reach doubles finals after a disappointing day in singles for the trio.
Whiley and Japan’s Yui Kamiji will play Dutch top seed Diede de Groot in the ladies’ doubles semifinals after world No.2 Kamiji curtailed Whiley’s singles challenge with a 6-3, 6-1.
Playing in her first Grand Slam since returning from maternity leave in February, Whiley said: “Today I felt like I was patchy. I don’t think there’s a lot to look at. I’m making changes to my game and Tokyo is the main aim, but it’s just a bit hard to accept that it may not go so well.
“Sometimes I forget I’ve only been back for sixth months and I certainly didn’t expect to be back in the top eight right now. I just wasn’t playing consistently well enough to beat Yui right now and once I’ve slept on it I know I’ll be fine for the doubles tomorrow.”
While Whiley and Kamiji will be looking for a winning start to their bid for a fifth Wimbledon doubles title, Hewett and Reid will face French top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer as the British duo aim for a fourth successive gentlemen’s doubles crown.
Hewett’s singles challenge ended in a 6-1, 6-3 loss to world No. 2 Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina.
Reigning US Open champion and world No.3 Hewett, who saved four match points, said: “He played very well and served and returned really well, but there were a lot of deuces and a few small things here and there made the difference. It’s tough to take, but both myself and Gordon will pick ourselves up and be ready to bounce off each other and go again tomorrow.”
Reid, who beat world No.1 Shingo Kunieda of Japan in the Roland Garros men’s singles semifinals last month, slipped to a 6-1, 6-1 loss to Kunieda in their latest meeting. Reid said: “It was an entirely different match to the one we played in France and, of course, I was coming off the back of reaching the final at Queen’s last month, so I was enjoying the grass. But it was just one of those days. I think he only missed five first serves in the entire match. But I’m looking forward to getting another chance tomorrow. The doubles is very important for us as a team and obviously we’ve won it for the last three years.”