Photo: Steve Wake / Professional SportDavid Wagner (USA)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: World No. 1 David Wagner is safely through to the quad singles semifinal after a 63 60 victory over Israeli Boaz Kramer in Tuesday’s opening match on Centre Court at the Paralympic Tennis Event.
It was a comfortable win for Wagner in the end, although Kramer did ask questions of his higher ranked American opponent, particularly in the early exchanges when a number of long games went to deuce.
The match got off to a blistering start with both players producing high quality tennis. The first breakthrough went to Wagner in the fourth game when Kramer failed to convert three chances to hold and was eventually broken, the No. 1 seed taking a 3-1 lead.
However, Wagner, unable to consolidate the advantage, was immediately pegged back after netting a short forehand on break point. That marked the start of a series of breaks before the 38-year-old from California eventually served out the first set.
The second set followed a similar pattern at the start as Kramer failed to convert his chances and was made to pay. Having missed game points in his opening service game, the Israeli saw Wagner record another early break to immediately forge ahead.
From there on, it was one-way traffic. Desperately bidding to retrieve the situation, Kramer tried to force his shots and the error count began to creep up. Wagner also got better as the match progressed and, using his backhand to great effect, started to pick off his opponent from the back of the court.
The result sees Wagner advance to the semifinals for the third straight Paralympics. It also stretches his unbeaten record against Kramer, the world No. 11, to five matches, dating back to their first clash at the British Open in 2008.
Wagner, a two-time quad doubles gold medallist, is still chasing his first gold medal in quad singles and will continue his quest in the last four against his doubles partner, fellow American Nicholas Taylor.
Taylor, who is the only player at London 2012 to use a powerchair, was forced to come from a set down in his quarterfinal victory over Sweden’s Anders Hard, eventually winning 46 64 61 in 1 hour 53 minutes.
“It was a great match,” said Taylor. “It’s been over two years since I last played Anders and he's improved a lot since we last played. He goes for a lot and I knew that I had to find a way to keep him from being able to go for so much, or at least try and keep him from making it when he went for so much.
“I really was more focused on doubles and in singles whatever happened, happened. I didn’t think that I had a chance of making a medal round, whereas now I have the chance of playing for one.”
Wagner and Taylor have met an incredible 67 times with the world No. 1 holding a significant 60-7 lead in the series. Taylor’s last win was six years ago, so Wagner will be the firm favourite to advance when they meet on Thursday.
Before that all-American clash, the two players will be hoping to work together towards a common goal as the pair take on British duo Peter Norfolk and Andy Lapthorne in the quad doubles final. That gold medal decider will be played on Wednesday.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.