Andy Lapthorne will bid to keep his quest for a place in the quad singles final of the Australian Open on track on Thursday after defeat to Australia’s Dylan Alcott in his first round robin match. On a difficult day for the Brits Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley both bowed out of the men’s and women’s singles on Wednesday’s first day of wheelchair tennis competition.
All three Brits will begin their doubles campaigns on Thursday with Lapthorne looking for his fourth Australian Open doubles title and Whiley defending her women’s doubles title with partner Yui Kamiji of Japan.
US Open champion Lapthorne was edged out 6-4, 6-4 by world No. 2 Alcott in the first of his three quad singles round-robin matches. But, with the top two players after the round-robin phase of the competition going through to the quad singles final, Lapthorne now turns his attention to his next match against South African world No. 4 Lucas Sithole.
Lapthorne will also have Sithole on the opposite side of the net twice on Thursday as Britain’s world No. 3 pairs up with American David Wagner in a bid to retain their Australian Open quad doubles title against Alcott and Sithole. Lapthorne will then face Wagner on Friday in his third and final round-robin singles contest.
“I gave it my best today, but Dylan was stronger on the day and I’ll now focus on my match against Lucas, knowing that there is still all to play for,” said Lapthorne, who fought back from 4-1 down to within a game of Alcott in the first set of their singles contest before Alcott broke at the start of the second set. “I beat both Lucas and David to win my first Grand Slam at the US Open in New York, so I will remain confident going into the next two matches and I’m really looking forward to pairing up with David again in the defence of our quad doubles title,” he added.
Reid will partner Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez in the men’s double semi-finals on Thursday after Fernandez won the men’s singles quarter-final between the two players 6-2, 6-4. Reid came back from 3-1 down in the second set and had two game points that would have levelled the set at 5-5 before Fernandez advanced to the semi-finals.
Reid and Fernandez, finalists in their only previous doubles event together, will now play second seeds Joachim Gerard of Belgium and Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands, the same partnership that Reid and fellow Brit Alfie Hewett beat in the semi-finals of last week’s Melbourne Open.
“Obviously I’m disappointed to lose out to Gustavo today. I’ve beaten him several time before and I’ve been preparing well and felt confident,” said Reid. “He is a tough opponent and we have had a lot of battles in the past, so I was expecting a difficult match and that’s what I got. Hopefully we can put up a good performance in the doubles now and it’s nice to go into the semi-final having already beaten Joachim and Maikel this season.”
Thursday’s schedule will also see Whiley and Japan’s Yui Kamiji begin their bid for a fifth successive Grand Slam title when they face Germany’s Katharina Kruger and Dutchwoman Sharon Walraven. Whiley became the first British tennis player to win a calendar year Grand Slam in 2014 when she and Kamiji won the women’s doubles at all four majors, but she was unable to find her best form in her opening women’s singles match in Melbourne on Wednesday and slipped to a 6-2, 6-0 loss to Dutch world No. 2 Aniek van Koot.
“I am bitterly disappointed and angry with myself for my performance today. I just cannot explain what happened out there, I couldn’t hit a ball in” said Whiley. I would like to thank everyone for their support, I am sorry that you did not see the real Jordanne Whiley out there today.”