Photo: Gregory PicoutStephane Houdet (FRA)
The United States becomes the primary focus for the world's top players on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour over the next two weeks as the final Super Series and Grand Slam tournaments of 2014 take place back-to-back in St. Louis and New York respectively.
It’s the second two week period on the calendar to have Super Series and Grand Slam events back-to-back, but unlike the last week of June and the first week of July, which feature the BNP Paribas Open de France and Wimbledon, both upcoming events feature singles draws and a large pool of world ranking points are on offer.
Seven of the world’s top 10 men’s singles players, nine of the world’s top 10 women’s singles players and seven of the world’s top 10 quad singles players will bid for major honours in at the US Open USTA Championships in St. Louis. World No. 1 players Shingo Kunieda and Yui Kamiji of Japan and David Wagner of USA have each won singles titles at three of the previous five Super Series tournaments this season.
Kunieda and Kamiji have secured Japanese doubles in the men’s and women’s singles at the Japan Open, the BNP Paribas Open de France and the British Open., the last three Super Series, just as they did in St Louis last year.
World No. 2 Stephane Houdet of France and world No. 3 ranked Brit Gordon Reid have come out on top in the other two men’s Super Series draws this year, with Reid winning his first Super Series title in Sydney in January and Houdet claiming the spoils at the SA Open in Johannesburg in April.
While the world’s top three players head the entries in St. Louis, Belgium’s world No. 5 Joachim Gerard has made a quick recovery from a hand injury sustained in Italy earlier this month and joins world No. 4 Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina and Dutch world No. 6 Maikel Scheffers in aiming to challenge Kunieda, Houdet and Reid.
As in the men’s singles the five women’s singles Super Series draws this year have also been won by just three players, with Dutch duo Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot winning in Sydney and Johannesburg before Kamiji’s successes in Japan, France and Britain.
Along with Germany’s current world No. 3 Sabine Ellerbrock, who was world No. 1 for most of the first half of the year, they Griffioen, Kamiji and van Koot have contested all five Super Series finals between them so far this season. World No. 5 Jordanne Whiley and world. No. 6 Marjolein Buis head the challengers aiming to join that select group in St. Louis.
The first quad singles Super Series event of the year in Sydney saw world No. 2 Lucas Sithole prevail in a closely fought round-robin contest before world No. 1 David Wagner went on to claim the titles in Johannesburg, Iizuka and Paris.
Australia’s Dylan Alcott added his name to the list of players to win a quad singles Super Series title at July’s British Open, beating Brit Andy Lapthorne in the final, but with world No. 4 Alcott not travelling to St. Louis it is likely to be world No. 3 Lapthorne and his fellow Brit and world No. 5 Jamie Burdekin challenging Wagner and Sithole for major honours this time.
While Wagner went through 2013 only losing to Sithole in quad singles competition the entire season, this year he has already had defeats against Lapthorne and Burdekin and all three singles events in St. Louis should provide some enthralling contests throughout the week.
US Open USTA Championships Draws on USTA.com