Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportMaikel Scheffers (NED)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Maikel Scheffers is safely through to the men’s singles second round at the Paralympic Tennis Event after defeating Poland’s Tadeusz Kruszelnicki 63 61 on Saturday afternoon.
Scheffers, the No. 3 seed, overcame a spirited performance from Kruszelnicki, who is ranked 22 places lower than the Dutchman at No. 25 in the world. The veteran Pole, aged 57, is also 28 years his senior.
It was one-way traffic at the start of the match as Scheffers quickly opened up a 3-0 lead with two breaks of serve. However, Kruszelnicki, the oldest player in the tournament, used his experience and court craft to find a way back into the set.
The Pole twice broke serve to drag himself back to 3-4, at which time he was causing his opponent a few problems, but once Scheffers held to move 5-3 ahead there was only ever going to be one winner.
The world No. 3 rattled off six straight games in quick succession to take the first set and move 4-0 up in the second set. There was a brief rally from Kruszelnicki when he broke Scheffers to stop the rot, but it was just delaying the inevitable and two games later the match was all over.
"It was so good coming out, the stadium was packed," said Scheffers. "I saw a lot of orange around me and it was good. There was a little bit tension in the beginning, but I felt great. I didn’t play my best, but it’s only the first round."
The venue for this week's tournament, Eton Manor, is the only purpose-built Paralympic venue, and it's clearly a hit with Scheffers. "I love Eton Manor," he continued. "It’s so busy, sold out every day. This is something that you have to enjoy."
Scheffers, who won the bronze medal on his Paralympic debut in Beijing, will take on Wasiu Yusuf in the second round. The Nigerian advanced with a 62 63 victory over American Noah Yablong. Scheffers and Yusuf have never previously met.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.