Gordon Reid has made history by becoming the first Brit to reach a Grand Slam men’s singles wheelchair tennis final on Thursday at the Australian Open.
Elsewhere, Andy Lapthorne finished runner-up in the quad doubles, but retains slender hopes of reaching the quad singles final despite losing his second round-robin match. Meanwhile, Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley were narrowly edged out in their bid to reach the women’s doubles final.
After beating world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda in his opening singles match at Melbourne Park, world No. 5 Reid clinched a three set win over Argentina’s world No.6 Gustavo Fernandez 6-3, 6-7(6), 9-7 in three hours and 13 minutes to reach his first Grand Slam singles final. He has previously reached the men’s singles semi-finals at both Roland Garros and the US Open.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to make my first Grand Slam singles final after winning my first two Grand Slam doubles titles last year. This is what you’re doing it for, this is what you play tennis for so I’ve just gone out there and enjoyed it,” said Reid, who will play world No.4 Joachim Gerard of Belgium in Saturday’s final.
“I just couldn’t believe it really at the end, I’d had two match points already and been a little bit tentative with them so I told myself just to go for it and if you miss it you miss it, but I couldn’t believe it. It was such a hard match and I was so tired after it, it was exhausting.”
Reid could yet reach his second Australian Open men’s doubles final, but his scheduled semi-final partnering Japan’s Kunieda was cancelled for the day and will now be played on Friday. Should Reid and Kunieda, be successful, they will then have the men’s doubles final later in the day.
On a mixed day for the Brits on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme Lapthorne and Australia’s Dylan Alcott paired up for the quad doubles decider, but after winning four previous Australian Open doubles titles with two different partners, Lapthorne was unable to add a fifth crown as he and Alcott lost out 6-3, 6-1 to South Africa’s Lucas Sithole and the USA’s David Wagner.
World No. 4 Lapthorne started the day by taking the opening set of his second singles-round-robin match against Sithole, but the world No. 3 came back strongly to earn a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory. Lapthorne must now beat American world No.2 David Wagner in straight sets and hope Alcott beats Sithole if the Brit is to progress to the final.
“I came here with high hopes after beating the world No.1 and world No.3 last week, but so far it’s not gone well. Now I need to beat the world No.2 and will give it my best,” said Lapthorne.
Shuker and Whiley made a fine effort to reach their second Grand Slam doubles final together and secured early breaks in the second and third sets of their semi-final against Dutch top seeds Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot. However, the London 2012 bronze medallists could not maintain their momentum and Griffioen and van Koot went on to win 7-6(5) 4-6, 6-3.
“I’m absolutely gutted to be out of the tournament. I gave it everything I had out there today but it was just not to be, congratulations to Jiske and Aniek,” said Whiley. “There are a lot of positives that we can take from this match and after a long three weeks, I am looking forward to getting back home and working hard with my team.”
“It was a good match today in tough conditions. I feel Jordy and I are really starting to work together and definitely had chances to win this match today,” said Shuker. There are a lot of positives to take away and I’m looking forward to continuing the hard work ready for the next tournaments leading up to Rio.”