Brits Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid reached their fifth Grand Slam men’s doubles final together on Thursday at the Australian Open when the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champions beat Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Shingo Kunieda of Japan 6-1, 4-6, (10-6).
Top seeds Hewett and Reid will face French second seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer in Friday’s final at Melbourne Park.
Hewett and Reid put the disappointment of bowing out of the men’s singles on Wednesday’s first day of wheelchair tennis competition firmly behind them as they reeled off six games in a row to take the first set. Although they were unable to wrap up the second set from 3-0 up, they were never behind in the deciding match tie-break and completed victory after an hour and 23 minutes.
“It feels good to be in a final again and have another opportunity to showcase what we can do on a tennis court, but I think the main satisfaction for us is how we played, especially in that first set and a half and the enjoyment we had on court and the teamwork we showed,” said Reid, who completed a career Grand Slam of doubles titles in Melbourne last year, when he and Hewett were on opposite sides of the net in the final.
“We said no matter what happened we wanted to go out there and enjoy ourselves and work as a team. To come out after yesterday and play some of the tennis we did in that first set and a half was just incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed it out there today,” said Hewett, who partnered Fernandez in last year’s Australian Open final, when Reid and Belgium’s Joachim Gerard came out on top.
Should Hewett and Reid win the trophy on Friday it would seal a first British Grand Slam title of the year. That would continue a run of unprecedented success for players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Performance Programme that saw Great Britain win seven Grand Slam titles in 2017 after a record medal haul at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Elsewhere on Thursday in Melbourne, Andy Lapthorne and his American partner David Wagner produced a fine effort in their bid to win a fourth Australian Open quad doubles title together.
After a slow start against Australia’s Rio Paralympic champions Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson, Lapthorne and Wagner dug deep to force a deciding match tie-break. However, Lapthorne’s hopes of taking his personal tally of Australian Open doubles titles to six ultimately slipped away as Alcott and Davidson took the win 6-0, 6-7(5), (10-6).
World No. 2 Lapthorne’s hopes of reaching a second successive Australian Open quad singles final also ended with a 6-2, 6-1 loss to Davidson in the second of three round-robin matches.
British women’s No.1 Lucy Shuker’s hopes of reaching a third Australian Open women’s doubles final also came to an end. Shuker and South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane lost out to top seeds Marjolein Buis and Yui Kamiji 6-1, 6-3 in their semi-final.