Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportStefan Olsson and Peter Vikstrom (SWE)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: An inspired performance from Stefan Olsson and Peter Vikstrom at the Paralympic Tennis Event on Thursday evening saw the Swedish pair reach the men’s doubles final at the expense of No. 1 seeds Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz.
In a repeat of the Paralympic final four years ago, silver medallists Olsson and Vikstrom turned the tables on the defending champions to win 61 76(6), the same scoreline with which the French pair prevailed in Beijing.
Olsson and Vikstrom, seeded No. 6, got off to a flying start as the match began at a frenetic pace and, having narrowly missed out on breaking Houdet in the first game, they achieved the feat in the third game on Jeremiasz’s serve.
The Swedes, playing some inspired tennis, carried forward the momentum and broke an out-of-sorts Houdet to lead 4-1, and two games later the first set was over when Jeremiasz dropped his serve for a second time.
The combination of Olsson at the back and Vikstrom at the net was causing the French duo all sorts of problems. Olsson’s speed on the baseline and Vikstrom’s reactions on the volley made for a fantastic spectacle of men’s doubles.
The French pair were now fighting to keep their gold medal hopes alive as the match threatened to run away from them, but to their credit they dug deep and stayed with the red-hot Swedes.
After staving off a pair of break points, Houdet clinched a gutsy hold to draw level at 3-3 and keep the second set on serve. It was a crucial moment because it provided a platform for the French pair to take Vikstrom’s serve in the next game, their long-awaited first break of the match.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Jeremiasz was immediately broken back to bring the Swedes all square at 4-4. After each pair held, the French duo once again forged ahead when Vikstrom’s vulnerable serve fell apart, but once again they couldn’t convert the chance as Jeremiasz was broken to force a tiebreak.
Houdet and Jeremiasz moved into a 6-4 lead in the breaker, only to see the determined Swedish couple fight back to 6-6. With the French pair looking nervous, seemingly aware the end could be nigh, Olsson and Vikstrom took advantage and two points later they sealed the match in 1 hour 32 minutes.
“I felt so good today, very good,” said Vikstrom. “Everything I did seemed to be on auto-pilot in the first set. In the second set we had chances to go 4-2, which we should have taken to kill the game, but we lost them. They started to hit the ball hard and we got a bit nervous, but we kept on hanging in, kept on pushing each other.”
The reward for Olsson and Vikstrom is another French challenge in the gold medal match against Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer. The No. 4 seeds upset the Dutch No. 2 seeds, Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink, in their semifinal match on Court 2.
The gold and bronze medal matches will both take place on Friday, with the final scheduled to be the third match on Centre Court.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.