Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportEsther Vergeer (NED)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Esther Vergeer is through to the women’s singles final at the Paralympic Tennis Event for the fourth time in her career, although the three-time champion was made to work harder than usual as she defeated Jiske Griffioen 60 63 in 55 minutes on Wednesday.
Vergeer, who had only dropped one game in her opening three matches, looked like she was heading for another double bagel victory at Eton Manor, but Griffioen showed tremendous spirit to give the world No. 1 a scare, albeit a brief one.
There can’t be many more daunting head-to-head records at this Paralympics than the one Vergeer possesses over her lower ranked compatriot, having won all 50 of their past matches, so Griffioen’s mini comeback in the second set should be applauded.
Vergeer flew out of the blocks at the start of this semifinal match, played in front of a big Centre Court crowd, and took the first eight games, racing into a 6-0 2-0 lead before her opponent had chance to react.
To her credit, Griffioen dug deep and found a way to break Vergeer in the third game of the second set. It appeared to be a mere consolation and the fans applauded it as such, but the No. 3 seed had other ideas and immediately held her own serve for the first time before shocking Vergeer with another break.
Being in the lead against Vergeer is somewhat of unchartered waters for Griffioen and she couldn’t keep up the pace. The top seed, seemingly annoyed by her lack of concentration, raised her standard and rattled off four quick games in succession to quash any ideas of an upset.
“We're on the same team and we both really know each other’s game,” said Vergeer. “I know she has a difficult backhand slice, so I know to avoid her backhand. I knew when to turn the switch to make it go my way.”
It was a display of Vergeer’s class that when she needed it there was an extra gear, or three, to move into. Incredibly, this is the 31-year-old’s 469th consecutive victory, a run that dates back to her last defeat nearly ten years ago in 2003.
Vergeer has captured the women’s singles gold medal at the last three Paralympics, while also adding two gold and one silver in the women’s doubles. Her quest for a fourth straight singles gold medal continues against either Dutch No. 2 seed Aniek van Koot or German No. 4 seed Sabine Ellerbrock, who meet in their semifinal later on Wednesday.
Predictably, Vergeer has never lost to either of her potential final opponents, leading van Koot 24-0 and Ellerbrock 5-0 in their previous encounters, although van Koot is the only player to take a set off the prolific world No. 1 in 2012. The women’s singles final is scheduled to take place on Friday.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.