David Wagner (USA) and Andy Lapthorne (GBR)
Experience prevailed on Thursday’s second day of the Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships when Andy Lapthorne and David Wagner won the first title at the first Grand Slam of the year with a straight sets win in the quad doubles final.
After the four players had taken to the courts at Melbourne Park for their second set of singles round-robin matches, top seeds Lapthorne and Wagner lined up against Australian Dylan Alcott, who is playing in his first Grand Slam and South Africa’s US Open quad singles champion Lucas Sithole, who is playing in his second Grand Slam after his memorable debut in New York last September.
Lapthorne and Wagner secured an immediate break at the start of the quad doubles final for a 2-0 lead, but trailed Alcott and Sithole 3-2 before asserting to take the opening set.
After securing another break at the start of the second set, Lapthorne and Wagner again had to battle hard as their opponents drew back on level terms, but after having match points at 5-3 and 5-4 they eventually converted their fourth match point to wrap up a 64 64 victory in their first ever tournament together.
It was Wagner’s fifth Australian Open doubles title after partnering fellow American Nick Taylor to victory in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013, while for Lapthorne it was a third quad doubles title in Melbourne after he partnered his fellow Briton Peter Norfolk to back-to-back win in 2011 and 2012.
“I’m really happy to get my third Australian Open title and want to thank David after we have been on opposite sides of the net so often in other Grand Slam finals. Australia is where I made my Grand Slam debut in 2011 and it’s great to get another title. This one is dedicated to my late auntie,” said Lapthorne.
Earlier in the day Wagner gained a second successive tense win the in the round-robin phase of the quad singles to book his place in Saturday’s final quad singles and keep his title defence on course.
The world No. 1, who is bidding for his third Australian Open quad singles title, prevailed 76() 76() against Sithole as they met at a Grand Slam for the first time since Sithole beat Wagner in New York to become the African to win a wheelchair tennis Grand Slam title.
However, Lapthorne saw his bid for a place in his second Australian Open singles final come to an end after his second loss in successive days as the event continued to produce some gripping finales.
Lapthorne saved six match points against Alcott, whose career in the quad division of wheelchair tennis only began at the start of this year. The 23-year-old local hope, a two-time wheelchair basketball Paralympic medallist and former world No. 4 ranked junior wheelchair tennis player, had a 5-2 lead and three match points in the deciding set, but eventually held on for a thrilling 64 57 86 victory, avenging his loss to Lapthorne in the semifinals of last week’s Melbourne Open.
“I never get nervous when I play basketball, but it’s a bit different when you’re from Melbourne and all your friends and family are watching and you’re up 5-2 in the third and you get down 6-5,” Alcott told the Australian Open website after his win.
With Alcott and Sithole now having both beaten Lapthorne, they have one win apiece after two matches and will go head-to-head on Friday to decide which of them will go forward to meet Wagner for the second time this week in Saturday’s final.
Men's singles draw
Men's doubles draw
Women's singles draw
Women's doubles draw
Quad singles draw
Quad doubles draw