Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportShingo Kunieda (JPN)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Defending champion Japanese Shingo Kunieda has given himself the chance to defend his singles title in London. He was second on centre court in a match against Ronald Vink of the Netherlands who he beat 6-2 6-2. Before this match Kunieda had only lost four games in the singles competition, with no more than two in a match.
It appeared in the first two games to be a normal day’s work for the Japanese player who has a 17-1 record against Vink, and he quickly went to a 2-0 head start losing just one point. A combination of some impressive attacking tennis from Vink however, along with a rare increase of errors by Kunieda resulted in the score being levelled at 2-2.
There were no nerves on display from Kunieda. His quick movement and impressive placement of the ball allowed him to regain the form he is renowned for. Using good disguise on his ground strokes he was hitting winners in all directions against Vink. The Dutchman who was being made to work for every point, could only guess where the next ball would be going. The Japanese player hit more than double the number of winners as VInk in the first set.
Kunieda quickly gave himself three set points at 5-2 with Vink serving. Vink saved all three points but Kunieda worked to win the advantage. A net cord on Vink’s second serve took the ball outside of the service box giving Kunieda the first set on a double fault.
The players exchanged serves until Kunieda broke Vink in the fourth game to go up 3-1. Vink was not contented however to let the Japanese have the match just yet and with an improvement in movement along with more tactical play enabling him to use his forehand drive he broke Kunieda to go 3-2 down.
It was a small case of missed opportunities for Vink who despite having break points at 4-2, was unable to convert any of these and Kunieda took the game to go 5-2. Vink was serving to stay in the match and Kunieda quickly went 0-40 up. However some rare misses from Kunieda allowed Vink to save all three match points.
A disturbance mid-point on the court resulted in the point at deuce being replayed. Vink hit a double fault to give Kunieda a fourth match point. Kunieda seized this chance and took the match. A pleased Kunieda post the match said "I am very happy.to be in the final. And of course I have confidence."
The match gives Vink confidence going into his bronze medal match against fellow Dutch Maikel Scheffers, who he played in the same round in Beijing. Vink reflected on the match that "It was hard. I knew it was going to be a hard match because he is the favourite and he is a very good player. I knew before I came here that this was going to be a tough match. I played well and that is what I'm going to take away from this match."
Kunieda will now play Stephane Houdet of France who won the first semifinal match in the final on Saturday.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.