Photo: Paul ZimmerShingo Kunieda (JPN)
Defending champions Shingo Kunieda of Japan, Aniek van Koot of Netherlands and David Wagner of the United States head the list of men’s, women’s and quad singles entries for the Optus Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships 2014, which takes place at Melbourne Park on 22-25 January.
The first Grand Slam event on the 2014 ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour will feature 20 players comprising the top seven ranked men’s and women’s players and the top three ranked quad players as of the entry cut-off date, as well as one wildcard in each draw.
Kunieda, who is ITF World Champion for the fifth time in 2013, won his sixth Australian Open title earlier this year after defeating Stephane Houdet of France in the final before Houdet went on to beat Kunieda in the finals at Roland Garros and the US Open.
Van Koot will go into the Australian Open having been crowned ITF World Champion for the first time in 2013. She won her first Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park at the start of this year before also winning the US Open in New York in September. Van Koot beat Germany's world No. 2 Sabine Ellerbrock in both finals, while Ellerbrock won her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros in May.
Six-time year-end quad singles No. 1 Wagner claimed his second Australian Open quad singles title in January 2013 after beating Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne in the final.
Wagner will renew his rivalry with Lapthorne and South Africa’s Lucas Sithole, who is set to contest his first Australian Open after becoming the first African to win a Grand Slam wheelchair tennis title when defeating Wagner in the final of the US Open in September.
(Figures in brackets denote world ranking at cut-off date)
|Shingo Kunieda (JPN) (1)
||Aniek van Koot (NED) (1)
|Stephane Houdet (FRA) (2)
||Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) (2)
|Joachim Gerard (BEL) (3)
||Yui Kamiji (JPN) (3)
|Gordon Reid (GBR) (4)
||Jiske Griffioen (NED) (4)
|Maikel Scheffers (NED) (5)
||Marjolein Buis (NED) (5)
|Gustavo Fernandez (ARG) (6)
||Kgothatso Montjane (RSA) (6)
|Michael Jeremiasz (FRA) (7)
||Jordanne Whiley (GBR) (7)
||Lucy Shuker (GBR) (8) (WC)
|David Wagner (USA) (1)
|Lucas Sithole (RSA) (2)
|Andy Lapthorne (GBR) (3)
|Dylan Alcott (AUS) (WC)
There will be two Australians in the field of 20 players, with Sydney’s Ben Weekes and Adam Kellerman going head-to-head in a one-match showdown at Melbourne Park on Monday, 20 January to decide who wins the men’s wildcard.
Fellow Australian Dylan Alcott OAM will carry local hopes in the quad events. The Victorian, a former world No. 4 in the Cruyff Foundation International Wheelchair Tennis Junior Ranking, has been awarded a wildcard to compete at his first Grand Slam event at Melbourne Park in January after making the switch to wheelchair tennis from wheelchair basketball earlier this year.
The 23-year-old is a two-time Paralympic medallist in wheelchair basketball.
The total prize purse for the Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships 2014 is $USD90,000.
The tournament is one of five events on the Australian Wheelchair Tennis Tour, which is run by Tennis Australia in partnership with the Australian Paralympic Committee during January and February.
The Australian tournaments start with the ITF 2 Series Queensland Wheelchair Tennis Open in Brisbane on 1-4 January.