World No.5 Jiske Griffioen upset top seed and 2011 runner-up Aniek van Koot in the only all-Dutch women’s singles match on Thursday’s second day of play at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Mechelen, Belgium, to maintain her unbeaten record along with German second seed Sabine Ellerbrock.
Meanwhile, defending champion Stephane Houdet of France and two-time Paralympic men’s singles champion Shingo Kunieda of Japan are unbeaten at the top their respective men’s singles pools heading into Friday’s third and final day of round-robin matches and world No. 1 David Wagner also made it two wins from two matches in the quad singles.
Griffioen beats van Koot. Ellerbrock also undefeated after two matches
Griffioen edged past world No. 2 van Koot 76(5) 64 in a closely fought contest in Pool 1 of the women’s event. Van Koot came from 3-1 behind to level the match at 3-3, but then saw her own 3-1 lead in the first set tiebreak disappear as Griffioen won the vital points.
Van Koot looked set to level the match as she won four of the first five games in the second set, but from 4-1 down Griffioen reeled off five games in succession to seal victory after an hour and 40 minutes on court.
“The first set was tough, it could have gone either way. I think we both made too many errors,” said Griffioen. “But in the second she started to make less errors and although I was 4-1 down I started to feel much calmer and so was able to fight back and I’m very happy to win five games in a row to win the match.”
Griffioen’s last match in the group stage will be against another fellow Dutchwoman, world No. 8 Sharon Walraven, who secured her first win of the week against South Africa’s Kgothsato Montjane.
Walraven back from 4-2 down in the first set to win four games in succession, but she made a much better start to the second set against world No. 10 Montjane and built a 3-0 lead before wrapping up a 64 64 victory. Montjane, who has become the first African player to contest the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters this week, will look to claim her first win in the tournament when she takes on van Koot, having already beaten the world No. 2 this season.
The second day of women’s Pool 2 matches saw world No. 3 Ellerbrock of Germany fight back from a set down to beat Dutch world No. 4 Marjolein Buis.
Buis came from 4-0 down to secure a double break and snatch the lead before winning the last two games of a fascinating opening set, but Ellerbrock’s break at the start of the second set was enough to give her the cushion she need to take the second and force a decider. She then dropped just the third game of the third and final set to seal a 46 64 61 victory and make it two wins from two matches.
Ellerbrock will play Belgian home favourite Annick Sevenans in the final set of round-robin matches, with Sevenans having come through an even more dramatic contest in her second match of the week as she beat world No. 7 Lucy Shuker of Great Britain 75 46 75.
Shuker came back from 4-1 down to lead 5-4 in the first set before world No. 9 Sevenans clinched the next three games for a one set lead. Shuker then recovered from 4-0 down to win six games in a row to take the second set. In he third set decider Shuker led 4-1 and had two match points at 5-3, but was unable to win the crucial points and subsequently lost the last four games of the match.
Houdet and Kunieda stay unbeaten in men’s singles
World No. 1 and top seed Houdet posted his second win in successive days at the NEC Masters when he beat two-time former champion Stefan Olsson of Sweden 62 61. The two players exchanged breaks in the first four games of the first set before Houdet started a sequence of eight games in succession as he took the opening set and then built a commanding 4-0 second set lead en route to wrapping up victory
“This is just my match after the Picardie Masters in France and a trip to Tanzania, so I was happy with my play today,” said Houdet. “I was very focussed on his serve and I played deeper than yesterday and probably faster too, so all is good.”
Houdet will play world No. 4 Ronald Vink in his remaining round-robin match after Vink defeated world No. 5 Michael Jeremiasz of France 64 61. Vink put together a sequence of four games in the middle of the opening set as he came from 3-1 down to take the set. The Dutchman then dropped just the fifth game of the second set.
In Pool 2 world No. 3 Kunieda eased to the first set of his match against world No. 2 Scheffers, as Schffers managed to win just the second and fifth games. Kunieda continued to dominate as he moved 4-1 ahead in the second set and sealed a comprehensive 62 62 victory in an hour and 12 minutes.
Kunieda’s final opponent in the round-robin phase will be Argentina’s world No. 6 Gustavo Fernandez after Fernandez secured his first win at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters when he beat fellow debutant Gordon Reid of Great Britain.
Fernandez raced into a 4-0 lead before Reid fought back to win the next five games, but as the set entered a tiebreak Fernandez recovered from 3-1 down to lead 5-3. Reid had a set point at 6-5, but was unable to convert it and Fernandez went on to seize the initiative. Reid edged the opening exchanges of the second set, but Fernandez asserted himself to build a 5-2 lead before competing his 76(6) 64 victory in an hour and 40 minutes.
Hard registers first win as Wagner beats Lapthorne
World No. 8 Anders Hard of Sweden registered his first win on his NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters debut as he beat American Nick Taylor for the first time in their second round-robin match.
Hard won the last three games of the first set and broke world No. 5 Taylor’s serve midway through the second set en route to sealing a 63 63 victory.
“I got the chance to play here quite late on and this is my first win over Nick, so it’s a nice way to get my first win at the Masters,” said Hard. “I was really struggling yesterday (against Andy Lapthorne), but these courts are different to anything I’ve played on before and I feel I’m getting to know them so I hope I can have a good match now against David (Wagner).”
Four-time NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion Wagner made it two wins from two matches as he his avenged his loss to Britain’s 2011 runner-up Andy Lapthorne in the round-robin phase of last year’s event.
Early in the match Lapthorne looked like he might be on course to upset the American world No. 1 again as he took a 3-1 lead, but a major shift in momentum saw Wagner take the next 11 games to wrap up a 63 60 victory.
The second day of action at Heiveld Tennis Centre ended with a mixed doubles one-up, one down exhibition match in which Belgium’s Sydney 2000 Olympic women’s doubles bronze medallists Dominique Monami and Els Callens partnered Belgiian wheelchair tennis players Joachim Gerard and Gert Vos respectively.
Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd, Callens and Vos fought back from 4-1 down to take the one set contest 7-5.