Photo: Paul ZimmerMaikel Scheffers (NED)
Five-time Australian Open champion Shingo Kunieda of Japan and defending champion Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands will go head-to-head in the stand out match in the first round of the men’s singles when the 2013 Australian Open Wheelchair Championships get underway at Melbourne Park on Wednesday. The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam tournament on the 2013 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
Monday evening’s draw was attended by Pakistan’s two-time 2010 US Open doubles finalist Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, who addressed the players and wished them good luck. Two-time Paralympc gold medallist Kunieda was drawn to meet world No. 3 Scheffers, who won his second Grand Slam in Melbourne last year.
Meanwhile, 2012 ITF World Champion Stephane Houdet of France drew fellow Frenchman and world No. 6 Michael Jeremiasz. Jeremiasz completed his preparations for the first Grand Slam of the year by winning the ITF 2 Series Melbourne Open on Sunday.
Elsewhere, world No. 4 Ronald Vink of the Netherlands will play Argentina’s world No. 5 Gustavo Fernandez, who will become the first South American player to contest a Grand Slam wheelchair tennis event. Sweden’s Stefan Olsson will play Adam Kellerman, who will make his Grand Slam debut after winning his wild card play-off against fellow Australian Ben Weekes 64 62 earlier in the day on Monday.
After taking an early 3-0 lead against Weekes, Kellerman eventually served out the first set before winning the last three games of the second set to secure the available wild card spot.
Griffioen and Buis to meet in women’s singles
Two of the four Dutch players in the field of eight for the women’s singles will meet in Wednesday’s first round after Jiske Griffioen was drawn to meet Marjolein Buis. Griffioen, the women’s singles bronze medallist at London 2012, has won the last two of the three tournaments she has played this season, including the Sydney International Open, the first Super Series event of the year, and the Melbourne Open, which finished on Sunday.
In both Sydney and Melbourne Griffioen beat fellow Dutchwoman and world No.2 Aniek van Koot in the women’s singles final. Van Koot, the top seed for this year’s Australian Open in the absence of Esther Vergeer, plays South Africa’s world No. 10 Kgothatso Montjane for a place in the semifinals as Montjane becomes the first African player to contest a wheelchair tennis Grand Slam event.
World No. 3 Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany will meet Sharon Walraven of the Netherlands, while Britain’s world No. 7 Lucy Shuker will play Australian world No. 8 Daniela di Toro.
Wagner heads quad singles entry
World No. 1 David Wagner of USA bids for his second Australian Open title as the 2011 champion heads a field of four players that will play each other in a round-robin even in the quad singles before the top two go through to the final.
Wagner will face Great Britain’s world No. 4 Andy Lapthorne as Lapthorne, two-time Australian quad doubles champion, attempts to reach his first Grand Slam singles final. Lapthorne warmed up for the Australian Open by winning the Melbourne Open over the weekend after beating Sweden’s Anders Hard in the decisive round-robin match.
World No. 5 Hard contests his first Grand Slam at Melbourne Park, while American world No. 6 Nick Taylor completes the field. Taylor and Wagner, three-time Paralympic gold medallists, will be again be a formidable force in the quad doubles.