Photo: Paul ZimmerAniek van Koot (NED)
The top two seeds will meet in both of Saturday’s men’s and women’s singles finals at the Australian Open Wheelchair Championships, the first Grand Slam tournament of the year on the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands survived two match points against her in her women’s singles semifinal to set up a title decider against Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock, and Shingo Kunieda of Japan and Stephane Houdet of France justified their seedings to reach the men’s final.
In the quad singles world No. 1 David Wagner maintained his bid for his second Australian Open title after he and fellow American Nick Taylor both claimed three set wins in the second set of round-robin matches.
Van Koot battles back; Ellerbrock reaches first Grand Slam final
Last year’s runner-up and top seed this year, van Koot looked like she might bow out in the semifinals after winning just one game in her first set against her fellow Dutchwoman world No. 5 Marjolein Buis.
However, with Buis having already beaten world No. 3 Jiske Griffioen in the quarterfinals, she was unable to complete another upset despite having two match points in the second set and van Koot went on to seal her place in the final 16 76(6) 63.
The other women’s singles semifinal also produced a fascinatingly close contest, but second seed and world No 4 Sabine Ellerbrock eventually held on against world No. 7 Lucy Shuker to edge to a 76(1) 75 victory that secures the German player a place in her first Grand Slam singles final.
Kunieda to meet Houdet
World No. 1 Kunieda raced through his semifinal against world No. 8 Stefan Olsson of Sweden 60 62 as he continued his attempt for a sixth Australian Open men’s singles title.
Kunieda needed just 46 minutes to extend his current unbeaten sequence of singles matches since mid–June 2012 to 32 and set up his fourth Australian Open final since 2009 against Houdet, the player Kunieda has replace as world No. 1 this week.
In temperatures approaching 35 degrees Houdet had a much tougher passage into the final, but came through to beat Dutch world No. 4 Ronald Vink 61 36 63. He will now meet Kunieda in their second Grand slam final in the last eight months after Houdet beat Kunieda to list his first Grand slam title at Roland Garros last June, which was Kunieda’s last competitive singles loss.
“My skin was burning, but I said to the French media that I’m like a lizard, so I love to play in Australia. I love that kind of condition when it’s very warm,” Houdet told the Australian Open website. It will be a pleasure (to play Kunieda) ... we love to play each other. It’s a good show and good entertainment. He’s very fast with the chair and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Wagner stays on course in quad singles
2011 Australian Open champion Wagner put himself in pole position in the round-robin group phase of the quad singles after earning a hard-won victory over world No. 4 and second seed Andy Lapthorne. Wagner built a 4-0 lead in the opening set against Lapthorne before the Briton hit back to level the set at 5-5. Wagner went on to snatch the set before Laopothorne dominated the second, but Wagner held on in a tense decider to win 75 16 64.
After losing to Lapthorne on the opening day of play in Melbourne, world No. 6 Taylor posted his first win of the 2013 Australian Open after coming from a set down to beat Swedish world No. 5 Anders Hard 36 64 61. London 2012 bronze medallist Taylor and silver medallist Wagner will now play each other on the last day of round-robin competition, while Lapthorne takes on Hard for the second time in a week after they met in the title decider at the Melbourne Open.
Top seeds beaten in doubles semifinals
Adam Kellerman will certainly remember his Grand Slam debut for a long time after the Australian partnered Olsson to beat top seeds Houdet and Vink 64 76(6) in the men’s doubles semifinals.
Kellerman, who won a wildcard play-off on Monday against fellow Australian Ben Weekes to gain his place in the men’s field, is playing doubles with Olsson for the first time this week and after upsetting the top seeds they will now play second seeds Michael Jeremiasz of France and Kunieda in Friday’s final after Jeremiasz and Kunieda beat Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez and Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands 63 62 in the other semifinal.
There was a scare for top seeds and Wimbledon champions Griffioen and van Koot in their women’s double semifinal. The reigning Doubles Masters champions eased through the opening set against Australia’s Daniela di Toro and Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa without dropping a game, but then could win only the sixth game of the second set.
After van Koot required repairs to her tennis chair between sets the Dutch top seeds regrouped to take a 3-0 lead in the final set before di Toro and Montjane fought back and finally level the match at 5-5. However, their efforts were ultimately in vain and as Griffioen and van Koot wrapped up a 60 16 75 victory.
Griffioen and van Koot play second seeds Buis and Shuker in the women’s doubles final after Buis and Shuker had another tough match in their semifinal before sealing a 75 63 win over Ellerbrock and Sharon Walraven.
Friday’s penultimate day of play at Australian Open Wheelchair Championships will feature the men’s, women’s and quad doubles finals as well as the last two quad singles round-robin matches.
Friday's wheelchair tennis matches are scheduled for courts 6 and 7 at Melbourne Park, starting at 3.00 pm local time.
Order of Play - Friday, 25 January 2013
Men's Singles Draw
Women's Singles Draw
Quad Singles Draw
Men's Doubles Draw
Women's Doubles Draw
Quad Doubles Draw