Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportDavid Wagner and Nick Taylor (USA)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: USA’s Nick Taylor and David Wagner will meet Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne and Peter Norfolk in the quad doubles final at the Paralympic Tennis Event after the two pairs, who had both received byes to reach the semifinal stage, recorded straight set wins on Monday.
Two-time champions Taylor and Wagner, seeded No. 2, are just one match away from defending their quad doubles gold medal having come through a tightly contested semifinal on Centre Court against Israeli duo Noam Gershony and Shraga Weinberg 73 76(6) in 2 hours 6 minutes.
In a topsy-turvy match, Taylor and Wagner took a 3-0 lead in the first set with two breaks of serve, but the Israelis fought back and made life difficult for the Americans, who kept their noses in front and broke twice more to seal the set.
The second set was a role reversal as Gershony and Weinberg jumped ahead early before Taylor and Wagner drew level at 3-3. The set headed for a tiebreak and the Israelis once again found themselves in the lead, but once again they couldn’t convert and the Americans battled back to prevail.
Gershony and Weinberg ultimately couldn’t get to grips with the tactics of the American pair. Taylor, who is the only player at London 2012 using a powerchair, defends from behind the baseline with Wagner lurking inside the court for the killer blow, making for an effective double act.
“They're a strong team,” said Wagner, speaking about the Israeli pair. “We kept going in hard. Given that we're the defending champions everyone wants to get us and we're not going down without a fight. In the first set we came out strong and stayed steady. They were on fire, but we did what we wanted to do. They were solid in the second set and played it well. It was a battle all the time.”
Norfolk and Lapthorne, seeded No. 1, scored a 62 62 triumph in 1 hour 19 minutes in their semifinal against Japanese couple Shota Kawano and Mitsuteru Moroishi, although the margin of victory was narrower than the scoreline suggests.
Kawano and Moroishi held their own at the start of the match and actually took a 2-1 lead. However, buoyed by the home support on Court 1, the British pair roared back to win the next five games and claim the first set.
Lapthorne and Norfolk continued the momentum into the second set and, leading 4-1, had points to extend their advantage and move within one game of the gold medal match, but the Japanese duo fought back to 4-2.
It turned out to be merely a stay of execution as Lapthorne and Norfolk promptly won the next two games to seal their spot in the final, which will see them renew a long standing rivalry with Taylor and Wagner. The Brits lead the series 7-2 when these four players have been on the same court, dating back to their first clash in 2009.
Norfolk, a two-time quad singles gold medallist, has won silver and bronze medals at the last two Paralympics in the quad doubles event, but this is the first time he’s teamed up with Lapthorne. He partnered Mark Eccleston in Athens and Jamie Burdekin in Beijing.
"Andy was definitely the dominant player and he kept us in there and hit some great shots," said Norfolk.
"The whole Games have been absolutely amazing so far and I'm so proud to be a part of it and have secured a medal."
"We'll work so hard to get the gold," said Lapthorne.
The quad doubles final is scheduled to take place at Eton Manor on Wednesday, while the competition is still alive for the losing semifinalists as they will contest the bronze medal match, also on Wednesday.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.