Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportEsther Vergeer (NED)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Esther Vergeer won her fourth successive women’s singles gold medal at Eton Manor on Saturday as she extended her remarkable unbeaten winning streak to 470 matches with a 60 63 victory over fellow Dutchwoman and world No. 2 Aniek van Koot after 59 minutes.
With the women’s doubles final to come on Sunday, Vergeer’s victory took her Paralympic medal haul to six gold medals and one silver medal in total as she confirmed her status as the most successful wheelchair tennis player, having overtaken six-time medallist David Hall of Australia.
Victory also brought Vergeer her 120th tournament win in succession.
Vergeer broke to love in the first game, finishing with a forehand down the line winner, and although van Koot had break points on two separate occasions in the second game, she put successive forehands into the net to give Vergeer a second game.
Van Koot came into the match as the only player to have taken a set off Vergeer this season, but from the start the combination of Vergeer’s power and inconsistency from van Koot, particularly on serve, proved a decisive factor and Vergeer opened up a 4-0 lead.
Vergeer had three break points in the fifth game, but overshot van Koot’s baseline on all three occasions to make it deuce before finally hitting a forehand winner from the centre of the court to move to within a game of the set.
Vergeer earned herself three set points with some powerful serving and although she couldn’t take the first two, she hit another forehand winner past van Koot to ease to the set in 24 minutes .
Vergeer’s power continued to cause problems for van Koot in the opening game of the second set and the defending gold medallist chalked up a seventh successive game.
The eighth game of the match saw van Koot take Vergeer to deuce, but the young player’s efforts were to no avail and although she had two game points in the next game, van Koot’s error count increased as Vergeer moved relentlessly on to a 3-0 second set
Van Koot let out a big shout of ‘Come on’ as she finally got on the scoreboard in the eleventh game of the match to make it 4-1, much to the delight of the big legion of Dutch spectators in a near capacity 5,000 crowd on Centre Court.
With her first game under her belt van Koot started finding an her range with an increasing number of winners and started putting Vergeer under pressure, subsequently earning her second game in a row.
Vergeer broke to love to move to within a game of her fourth gold medal, but a resilient van Koot forced her opponent continued to pressurise as much as she was allowed to and Vergeer misfired with a backhand down the line to make it 5-3.
However, victory was not far away for Vergeer and at 30-40 up on van Koot’s serve Vergeer manoeuvred her opponent out of position, allowing her to hit one last forehand winner into an open right hand side of the court for 60 63 before hailing her latest Paralympic success with shouts of delight as she raised her arms in triumph.
"It’s amazing. Everyone was talking about it and I just made it happen. It's what I dreamt about, thought about and did everything for. There was so much pressure,” said a tearful Vergeer. "Everybody expected me to win gold and that I would win, but I still had to work hard, to go to training, to be at the top of my game. A lot of people forget that.
"I've got family here, friends here, sponsors. Now they're here at this great event. London did an amazing job of integrating the (Olympics and Paralympics), you really got that whole Olympics feeling. I love that my family and friends experienced that. I'm going to enjoy this one. I'm not promising anything that I'll be here in four years."
Van Koot said: "The first set wasn't as I hoped it was going to be, unfortunately. Esther was too strong in the first and I couldn't keep my nerves down. In the second set I was a bit more pleased with that and I could keep my nerves down a bit more. I could catch my breath but it still wasn't good enough, but there's always next time. A silver is good, and one day it will be gold. I'll raise the bar for that and I will set my goals on gold for the next time."
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.