20 Jan 2018

Fernandez, Kamiji, Wagner seal Melbourne Open titles


News Article

Photo: Tim BrassilGustavo Fernandez (ARG)

Gustavo Fernandez, Yui Kamiji and David Wagner completed their preparation for next week’s Australian Open with a clean sweep for the top seeds in Saturday’s men’s, women’s and quad singles finals at the ITF 1 Series Melbourne Open, part of the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

Fernandez celebrated his 24th birthday in style. A year ago the Argentinian beat then world No. 1 Gordon Reid to win the men’s singles final. This year Fernandez cemented his own position as world No. 1, defeating French third seed Stephane Houdet 16 63 63 in the second successive three-set match between the reigning Australian Open champion and the reigning US Open champion.

Having ended 2017 with back-to-back losses to Houdet, Fernandez has now won five of their last seven meetings since winning their Australian Open semifinal last January.

Kamiji seals back-to-back titles

Kamiji will begin her Australian Open title defence unbeaten in seven matches so far in 2018. For the second successive year Japan’s world No. 1 beat Aniek van Koot of Netherlands in the Melbourne Open women’s singles final and it was the second straight week she’d met van Koot in a title decider.

Twelve months ago Kamiji secured her first ever 60 60 win over van Koot in the final at Hume Tennis and Community Centre. Saturday’s final proved somewhat tougher after they had been to three sets a week ago at the Sydney International Open. But van Koot was unable to build on a 4-2 advantage in the first set tiebreak and Kamiji never let her opponent back into the match after opening up a 3-0 second set lead, ultimately wrapping up a 76(4) 61 victory.

Wagner beats doubles partner Sithole to quad title

There was no repetition of Wagner’s slow start to his semifinal against Heath Davidson as USA’s world No.1 raced into a 5-0 first set lead against his doubles partner Lucas Sithole of South Africa in the quad singles final. While Wagner soon served out the opening set, the second set was a much tougher undertaking, with the ten-time NEC Wheelchair Tennis Maters champion needing a tie-break before putting the seal on a 61 76(2) victory.

Wagner now remains unbeaten in 16 matches against world No. 4 Sithole since July 2015, but with world No. 5 Davidson awarded the wild card for the Australian Open it will be he that Wagner will meet again during the round-robin phase of the quad singles at next week’s first Grand Slam of the year.

Huang and Zhu beat Dutch top seeds in doubles final

Chinese duo Hui Min Huang and Zhenzhen Zhu’s second Melbourne Open women’s doubles final in three years saw them upset Dutch top seeds Marjolein Buis and van Koot

Huang and Zhu were runners-up in Melbourne in 2016 before winning their first ITF 1 title together two months later at the 2016 Pensacola Open, where they played Dutch opposition in the final. This time Huang and Zhu lifted their second ITF 1 title with a solid 62 62 win over Buis and van Koot.

On this day 12 months ago Stefan Olsson was preparing to leave Sweden to head for his latest Australian Open challenge. However, Olsson’s plans changed rapidly when his wife went into labour early and he cancelled his plans to fly Down Under before his son’s arrival two days later.

One year on and Olsson’s preparations for the 2018 Australian Open saw him partner Joachim Gerard in Saturday’s ITF 1 men’s doubles final. Having beaten top seeds Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid to reach the final third seeds Gerard and Olsson put in a fine effort in their bid to defeat second seeds Houdet and Nicolas Peifer, but the French duo held on in a thrilling encounter to win the match tiebreak and the title 46 75 (10-3).

While Houdet completed the Melbourne Open with singles and doubles tiles, so did Wagner.

After going head-to-head in the quad singles final Sithole and Wagner faced a stern first set challenge from Japan’s Shota Kawano and Koji Sugeno in the quad doubles decider. But in a reversal of the set scores in the singles final, Sithole and Wagner, the 2016 Australian Open champions, pulled well ahead in the second set to clinch their fourth title together 76(2) 61.



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