Photo: Paul ZimmerSabine Ellerbrock (GER)
Former champions Shingo Kunieda, Maikel Scheffers, Stephane Houdet and Sabine Ellerbrock are among a stellar field for the Roland Garros Wheelchair Tennis Event, which takes place in Paris on 4-6 June, with current world No. 6 Scheffers and world No. 2 and defending champion Houdet set to meet in Wednesday’s men’s singles first round at the second Grand Slam of the year.
With Roland Garros hosting an ITF Wheelchair Tennis Tour event for the seventh successive year, Houdet will be aiming for his third successive men’s title in Paris, with the Frenchman and Scheffers having won the last three men’s singles crowns.
Scheffers won in 2011, having beaten Kunieda in the semifinals to end the Japanese player’s sequence of four successive victories in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, but Houdet has been a popular home winner in 2012 and 2013 after defeating Kunieda in two enthralling finals.
Houdet arguably starts this year’s second major as the form player, having defeated Scheffers on clay on Sunday as France lifted the men’s World Group title at the World Team Cup. Nicolas Pefier opened France’s victory in the World Team Cup final and, having been awarded a wild card for Roland Garros this year, begins is challenge against world No. 1 Kunieda who is currently on a 19 match winning streak, having not lost since the semifinals of January’s Sydney International Open.
The player to beat Kunieda in Sydney was current world No. 3 Gordon Reid, a semifinalist at Roland Garros on his Grand Slam singles debut in 2013. If Reid is to defend his points, he will need to beat Japan’s world No. 8 Takuya Miki, who makes his Grand Slam debut after the withdrawal of world No. 7 Michael Jeremiasz of France, who is still recovering from injury, having not played since the Australian Open.
Gustavo Fernandez, world ranked No. 5 this week, was runner-up to Kunieda at the Australian Open and the Argentinean starts his second Roland Garros against Belgian world No. 4 Joachim Gerard, the runner up to Kunieda at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters last November.
Ellerbrock to play wild card Famin
Defending champion Ellerbrock will open her Roland Garros title defence against French world No. 17 Charlotte Famin, the wild card entry for the women’s singles.
Ellerbrock has regained the world No.1 ranking this week from Japan’s Yui Kamiji, who became the first Japanese player to rise to the top of the women’s rankings for a period of just two weeks while she had two lots of points for winning successive Japan Opens counting.
However, with the 2013 Japan Open points not now active on the 52 week roll over ranking and with Kamiji not having any Roland Garros points from 2013 to defend, a better performance in Paris from the young Japanese player could see her go back to world No. 1 in her own right.
Top seed and world No. 2 Kamiji starts her second Roland Garros against her doubles partner Jordanne Whiley, with the Brit also making her second appearance at Roland Garros, having won her first Grand Slam singles match to reach the Australian Open semifinals in January. Kamiji or Whiley will meet one of two Dutch opponents in the semifinals after 2013 Roland Garros runner-up and world No. 4 Jiske Griffioen was drawn to meet world No. 6 Marjolein Buis.
In 2013 Kgothatso Montjane became the first African to win a Grand Slam singles match in Paris and the South African starts her second Roland Garros against world No. 3 Aniek van Koot. Van Koot and Kunieda will open their latest appearances at Roland Garros just hours after receiving their 2013 ITF Wheelchair Tennis World Champions’ Trophies. Van Koot is drawn for a possible semifinal meeting with second seed Ellerbrock after the two players contested the 2013 Australian and US Open finals.
(Figures in brackets denote world ranking at entry cut-off of 14 Aprii)
|Shingo Kunieda (JPN) (1)
||Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) (1)
|Stephane Houdet (FRA) (2)
||Yui Kamiji (JPN) (2)
|Gordon Reid (GBR) (3)
||Jiske Griffioen (NED) (3)
|Joachim Gerard (BEL) (4)
||Aniek van Koot (NED) (4)
|Gustavo Fernandez (ARG) (5)
||Jordanne Whley (GBR) (5)
|Maikel Scheffers (NED) (6)
||Marjolein Buis (NED) (6)
|Takuya Miki (JPN) (8)
||Kgothatso Montjane (RSA) (7)
|Nicolas Peifer (FRA) (10) (WC)
||Charlotte Famin (FRA) (16) (WC)