11 Jan 2018

Kunieda beats world No. 1 Fernandez in Sydney

News Article

Photo: Tom BrassilShingo Kunieda (JPN)

Gordon Reid ended Nicolas Peifer’s eight match winning streak at the Sydney International Wheelchair Tennis Open on Thursday’s third day of the first Super Series event on the 2018 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, when Shingo Kunieda also ended the title challenge of world No.1 Gustavo Fernandez in the quarterfinals.

While a British-Japanese men’s final is guaranteed, the top four seeds have reached the quad singles semifinals, while a Dutch finalist is guaranteed in the women’s singles going into Friday’s penultimate day of play.

World No. 4 Reid brought world No. 5 Peifer’s bid for a hat-trick of tiles in Sydney to an end, defeating the Frenchman 61 63 in the last eight to set up a rematch of his 2017 semifinal against fellow Brit Alfie Hewett. World No. 2 Hewett kept himself on track to reach the final in Sydney for the second successive year after beating sixth seed and Wimbledon champion Stefan Olsson 64 63.

It was a fine day for Japan’s top two ranked players as world No. 7 Kunieda beat Fernandez for the first time since the NEC Masters at the end of 2015. Kunieda, who won the most recent of his four Sydney Super Series titles in 2015, dominated the second and third sets against his Argentinian opponent to advance 46 62 60. He now plays world No. 10 Takashi Sanada, whose 76(2) 64 win over world No. 3 Stephane Houdet was the Japanese player’s second win of the week against a seed.  

Wagner to face Davidson in quad singles semifinals

World No. 1 David Wagner and world No. 5 Heath Davidson will meet in their third successive Super Series semifinal after sharing the honours in the last two Super Series events of 2017, the British Open and the US Open USTA Wheelchair Championships.

The UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour head-to-heads between the American and the Australian will go into double figures on Friday in Sydney after Wagner came through his first match of 2018, against Japan’s Koji Sugeno, 62 26 62.

Davidson’s only two wins against Wagner in their previous nine matches came in back-to-back contests in North America last August and September. Davidson will bid to follow up his UTA Championships Super Series win after beating world No. 7 Antony Cotterill 62 62 on Thursday in Sydney.

The possibility of an all-Australian quad singles final remains after Dylan Alcott opened his account for 2018 with a 61 61 win over Mitsuteru Moroishi. Alcott’s semifinal opponent, world No. 4 Lucas Sithole, also beat Japanese opposition after overcoming Shota Kawano 62 63.

Van Koot joins top three seeds in women’s semis

While at least one Dutch semifinalist was guaranteed in the women’s singles, Aniek van Koot’s passage to the last four came after her countrywoman and world No. 4 Marjolein Buis had to retire in the second set of their quarterfinal. World No. 5 van Koot led 6-4, 2-1 when Buis, who injured her left shoulder in her last match at the NEC Masters in December, retired, revealing on her social media that ‘Yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) four hours on court came a little bit too early in my recovery’.

Van Koot now plays second seed Diede de Groot, who kept herself on track in her bid to reach the Sydney final for the second straight year with a 62 62 win over South African world No. 7 Kgothatso Montjane.

World No. 1 Yui Kamiji faces world No. 4 Sabine Ellerbrock in the other semifinal. Kamiji, the 2015 champion in Sydney beat sixth seed Lucy Shuker 61 63 in their last eight match, while Ellerbrock defeated world No. 10 Katharina Kruger 63 62 in the 25th career match between Germany’s top two ranked players.

Doubles finals set for Friday

With the men’s, women’s and quad singles finals due to take place at Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre on Saturday, Friday’s penultimate day of competition includes all three doubles finals.

The men’s doubles final see the latest chapter in the compelling rivalry between top seeds Hewett and Reid and second seeds and defending Sydney champions Houdet and Peifer. Hewett and Reid beat Belgium’s Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson 64 64 in their semifinal, while Houdet and Peifer defeated Fernandez and Kunieda 64 26 64.

Meanwhile de Groot and van Koot face Kamiji and Shuker in the women’s doubles decider after the Dutch top seeds held off Ellerbrock and Montjane 63 64. Kamiji and Shuker were far more dominant in their semifinal, beating the all-Japanese partnership of Kanako Domori and Mie Fukazawa 60 60.

Cotterill and Wagner will meet Alcott and Davidson in the quad doubles final. While Wagner’s first singles match of the year went to three sets, so did his first doubles match of the new season as he and Cotterill eventually wrapped up a 46 61 61 win over Kawano and Moroishi. Alcott and Davidson sealed a 61 63 semifinal win over Chinese Taipei’s Chu-Yin Huang and Sugeno.

2018 Sydney International Wheelchair Tennis Open Draws