Photo: Steve WylieMichael Jeremiasz (FRA)
Joachim Gerard and Michael Jeremiasz produced the outstanding results in the opening session of the 2013 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters on Tuesday when they beat two of the world’s top three ranked players to make winning starts in Pool 2 of the men’s singles at the Marguerite Tennis Pavilion, Mission Viejo.
World No. 6 Gerard, whose second of his previous two career wins over 2011 NEC Masters champion Stephane Houdet came in the final of July’s British Open, clinched a 63 26 63 win over his French opponent as the two players went to a third set for the fourth time in five matches in 2013. Gerard now edges ahead of Houdet 3-2 in head-to-heads this season.
There was better news for France in the other Pool 2 match as world No. 7 Jeremiasz battled back from a set down and a match point down to defeat 2009 NEC Masters champion and world No. 3 Maikel Scheffers in a contest lasting over three hours.
Jeremiasz arrived in Mission Viejo with a significant advantage over Scheffers in career head-to-heads, despite the difference in their rankings, and he extended his record against the Dutchman to six wins and just one loss this season after edging his way to a 46 64 75 victory.
Houdet will now face Scheffers on Wednesday in a contest that will be crucial for both players, while Gerard and Jeremiasz will meet to decide which of them will go into the final day of round-robin matches with an unbeaten record.
There wasn’t nearly as much drama in Pool 1 as Shingo Kunieda opened his title defence in tremendous form. As the Japanese world No. 1 came up against Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez, one of just three players who have beaten Kunieda this season, the 2012 champion raced to a 60 61 victory.
"I am playing in Mission Viejo under the sunshine. I am very fit, have confidence and I want to win," said Kunieda.
Britain’s Gordon Reid is another of the players to have beaten Kunieda this season and the world No. 4 opened his NEC Masters debut with a convincing 61 62 win over French world No. 8 Nicolas Peifer. Reid’s second of two wins over Kunieda in 2013 came just one month ago and the two players still have to meet in their remaining two round-robin matches in Mission Viejo.
Wagner and Sithole secure comfortable early wins
The world’s top two ranked players secured straight sets wins in the opening two matches in the quad singles.
A rematch of the last two NEC Masters quad finals produced a tense first set between defending champion David Wagner and world No. 3 Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain, but California-based world No. 1 Wagner prevailed and then gave his local fans plenty to applaud as he wrapped up a 75 60 victory.
US Open champion Lucas Sithole, the first African player to contest the quad singles at the NEC Masters, made a confident debut in the season-end championship, winning his first set without dropping a game. Although the South African world No. 2 had a tougher time in the second set against American world No. 4 Nick Taylor, Sithole won the points that mattered for a 60 64 victory.
Tuesday's night session in Mission Viejo features the first four round-robin matches in the women's singles.