Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid thrilled a near-capacity crowd on Court Three on Saturday to become the first three-time champions of the Wimbledon men’s doubles wheelchair tennis title after a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Belgium’s Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson of Sweden.
Second seeds Hewett and Reid could do little wrong in the first set, stringing together six games in a row to take the opener in just 25 minutes as Hewett fired a forehand winner on set point.
The defending champions earnt the first break of the second set for a 3-1 lead as Olsson sent a forehand long over the Brits’ baseline. However, their record of successive service holds came to an end in the very next game and Gerard and Olsson went on to level the set at 3-3.
The seventh game had everything for the appreciative crowd, with Olsson tipping out his tennis chair mid-rally before regaining his equilibrium and he and Gerard won the point and then the game to lead for the first time.
However, Hewett and Reid regrouped to move to within a game of another SW19 title and Olsson missed a volley at the net to bring up Championship point. With Gerard serving to stay in the match, Reid sent a looping forehand return back at him, the shot catching the line to secure the trophy for the Brits.
Speaking after the match, a delighted Reid emphasised how important it had been for the British duo to impose themselves from the start, saying: “They’ve got a dangerous game. They’re both big servers. They like to get forward, put us under pressure, and rush us. It was important to come out firing, try to stay on top of the points early. I felt we did that really well in the first set.”
The win gives Hewett and Reid a hat-trick of Wimbledon doubles titles and sees the pair remain unbeaten as a partnership at Wimbledon. It’s also their fourth Grand Slam title together after they also won the 2017 US Open crown.
Britain’s Andy Lapthorne made history when he was on the winning side of the net in the first ever quad doubles exhibition match to be staged at Wimbledon. Lapthorne and the USA’s David Wagner, three-time Australian Open champions and reigning US Open champions, recorded a 6-2, 6-3 win over Dylan Alcott of Australia and South Africa’s Lucas Sithole to repeat the outcome of two Australian Open finals against the same opponents.
The quad doubles exhibition is intended to be a stepping stone towards the introduction of quad wheelchair singles and doubles as Championship events in the future.
“It was amazing. It’s what dreams are made of. It’s something that I have campaigned for for a very long time – for it to actually become a reality today was very special and I enjoyed every second,” said-six-time Grand Slam champion and three-time Paralympic medallist Lapthorne.
“It’s always important to win and be the first two names up on the honours board is amazing. It’s special and I am just lost for words. It was a really special day, everything I dreamed of and more – just an amazing experience.”
Lapthorne and Wagner will now be among the rest of the world’s best wheelchair tennis players who travel up to Nottingham for next week’s British Open ‘Super Series’ event.
“It’s going to be tough. I’ve got to go there and focus and mentally prepare in the right way. For now I’m going to savour this and we’ll think about next week when next week comes,” added Lapthorne.
Shuker just misses out
British No.1 Lucy Shuker had a tournament to remember at Wimbledon but missed out on winning what would have been her first ever Grand Slam title.
Sunday’s final saw Shuker contest her first Grand Slam final for five years, partnering Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock in the Ladies Doubles final.
After successive straight sets semi-final defeats over the last four years in the Wimbledon doubles event, Shuker and Ellerbrock defied the odds to defeat Dutch second seeds Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot 3-6-4, 6-4 in this year’s semi-finals. That win saw Shuker playing some outstanding tennis, while her renowned attitude and determination was very much reflected in her partnership with Ellerbrock.
In the final, the duo pushed eventual champions and top seeds Diede de Groot and Yui Kamiji in the vast majority of games, something not reflected in the 6-1, 6-1 score line against a pair who are the world’s top two ranked singles players.
Speaking after the match, the British No.1 said “For me I’ve been longing to be in a final again for a long time at the Grand Slams, and to do it at Wimbledon is unreal. It’s humbling to be here and it’s an honour. I knew that it was going to be really tough playing against Yui and Diede because they are the number one seeds and they are very strong. Making the final was really great – it’s a shame we couldn’t get the win but they deserved it today”.
With the profile of the sport continuing to grow, a record crowd is expected at Nottingham Tennis Centre next week. Tickets for the British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships are being made available free of charge via www.tennisfoundation.org.uk/BritishOpen, with the event running from 17 – 22 July.