LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: There will be an all-Dutch women’s singles final for the sixth Paralympic Tennis Event in succession after world No. 2 Aniek van Koot joined Esther Vergeer in Friday’s gold medal match with a 75 62 victory over fourth seed Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.
With both players competing at their first Paralympics and both playing arguably the biggest match of their careers to date, it was van Koot that looked the most comfortable in the early stages as she held her serve to love in the opening game and although she served her first double fault two games later, Ellerbrock knocked a backhand into the net to make it 3-0.
Throughout the match van Koot tried to expose Ellerbrock’s inferior chair mobility and it worked as she secured the double break.
However, van Koot gave up a double fault to hand Ellerbrock a game point in the fourth game and the German player took it before it was van Koot found the net with a backhand on game point to give Ellerbrock another game in the fifth.
With the second seed starting to look tense, despite having plenty of Dutch fans courtside to cheer her on, she double faulted again and Ellerbrock came back to 4-3.
Van Koot moved within striking distance of the first set as Ellerbrock again found the net with a backhand, but the German player saved a string of set points in a tense ninth game before it was van Koot’s turn to find the net again with another backhand on game point.
Ellerbrock served a double fault to give van Koot two more set points in the next game, but successive backhand and forehand winners from Ellerbrock gave her a game point to level the match and this time it was a forehand from van Koot that found the net.
Nevertheless, van Koot regrouped and converted the second of three game points to move 6-5 ahead and while she let more set points slip in the twelfth game it was a backhand from Ellerbrock that finally proved decisive as the shot sailed over van Koot’s baseline to give the world No. 2 the set after 46 minutes.
A long deuce game started the second set, but it finally went the way of van Koot, who then fired forehand winners to clinch both the second and third games.
Ellerbrock had two game points in the fourth game, but she was unable to take advantage of them and, as in the first set, van Koot secured the double break. Although Ellerbrock dug deep to retrieve one of the breaks, she hit an overhead forehand into the net to make it 5-2 and van Koot went on to fire a backhand cross court winner out of Ellerbrock’s reach to set up two match points. Van Koot missed her target with an attempted forehand winner on the first match point, but she was handed her place in the final when Ellerbrock double faulted.
“I'm so excited, I don't think I've realised yet what has just happened. It'll hit me later. It's amazing,” said a jubilant van Koot. “There's such a relief that I have the opportunity to win a silver or a gold. I just wanted to be a little mouse in the first round so I could look ahead and see what was happening later in the competition to calm my nerves.
The only player to have taken a set of tennis of Vergeer this season, van Koot said she would approach the final as a new challenge:
“I've played her (Vergeeer) several times in a final in the past year. It'll be a new day and a new match."
Ellerbrock will play Dutch third seed Jiske Griffioen in Thursday’s bronze medal match.
"At the moment I'm a little disappointed. The first couple of games were too quick, I was not in the match,” said Ellerbrock. “The conditions were very difficult for me. The wind was changing all the time. I'm happy I managed to fight back during the first set, I was unlucky, but Aniek was the better player today. I have to accept that.
“I am proud of what I have done up to this point. I still have chance to get a medal. I have won against Jiske before and we normally play the same game. I will go for it," added Ellerbrock.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.