Two Dutch ITF World Champions whose respective career highlights to date span 15 years will meet for the just the third time on Saturday at the Austrian Open, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, after Ricky Molier and Maikel Scheffers both made it through to the men’s singles semifinals in Gross Siegharts.
Molier, the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic men’s singles gold medallist and three-time ITF World champion and Maikel Scheffers, the 2011 ITF World Champion and Beijing 2008 men’s singles bronze medallist, have reached the last four of this week’s ITF 2 Series event after both securing a succession of straight sets wins.
Molier has maintained his hopes of reaching his first singles final since making his comeback to the sport in March this year after beating two seeds en route to the semi-finals, overcoming Austrian fifth seed Josef Riegler in the second round and Britain’s world No. 1 ranked junior and third seed Alfie Hewett 64 62 in Friday’s quarterfinals.
The early highlights in the men’s singles came in the top quarter of the draw as Thomas Mossier edged out his fellow Austrian Dan Kleckner 36 64 75 in the first round, but Mossier had his own challenge brought to a halt in his next match as German eighth seed Steffen Sommerfeld wrapped up an equally narrow 76(5) 36 75 victory to advance to the last eight.
Scheffers ended the German’s challenge on Friday’s third of play as the top seed secured his second win in successive days for the loss of just two games to set up his first meeting with Molier since 2002, There are just seven years between 31-year-old Scheffers and 38-year-old Molier, but Molier holds a current 2-0 lead in head=to-heads after securing both his wins over his countryman when Scheffers was just 19 year-old.
There’s another fascinating match-up in the other men’s semifinal as former Sweden’s world No. 2 Stefan Olsson, who also returned to the sport earlier this year after a far shorter period off court, takes on current world No. 8 and second seed Nicolas Peifer of France. Olsson, the seventh seed in Gross Siegharts, ended the Austrian challenge with a comfortable 60 62 win over fourth seed Martin Legner.
Walraven and Spaanstra to contest all-Dutch final
Sharon Walraven and Michaela Spaanstra will contest the women’s singles final, with the Dutch top seed and second seed both sealing successive straight sets wins after first round byes. Fourth seed Mieke van Chastelet brought an end to the host country’s hopes in a tight quarterfinal against Margrit Fink, but van Chastelet ensured three Dutch players would feature in the semifinals after prevailing 62 36 60.
Walraven and Spaanstra will meet for just the first time after Walraven’s victory over Russian third seed Polina Shakirova produced her second successive 60 62 victory, while Spaanstra reached her fourth singles final of 2014 with a 64 62 win over van Chastelet.
German 22-year-old Marcus Laudan made the early headlines in the quad singles, reversing his loss to Britain’s Ian Payne in last weekend’s Germany Open final to beat Payne 62 64 in the first round in Austria before overcoming the host nation’s fourth seed Peter Tatschl 61 75.
With two Italian players occupying the top two seeded positions, top seed Antonio Raffaele had to draw on all his experience in his opening match to defeat Israel’s Haim Lev 64 16 63 and went on to end Laudan’s challenge 64 63 in the semifinals. Former world No. 1 Shraga Weinberg reversed Israeli fortunes in his semifinal against Italian second seed Giuseppe Polidori, earning a 62 67(2) 61 victory and goes into the final against Raffaele unbeaten in their six head-to-heads to date.