06 Sep 2012

Day 6: Griffioen clinches elusive medal

Match Report

Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportJiske Griffioen (NED)

LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Jiske Griffioen of the Netherlands secured her first women’s singles Paralympic Tennis medal in three Games when she clinched bronze on Thursday after a 62 76(6) victory over Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany.  

After missing out in the bronze medal match in Beijing four years ago, Griffioen made the more tentative start to the match and a string of errors helped give Ellerbrock the first game to 15, while the German player broke to love in the second game as Griffioen again struggled to find her range.

Griffioen came from 0-30 down to secure her first game of the match to make it 2-1. With the Dutchwoman starting to play more freely and Ellerbrock being the player committing the greater percentage of errors, Griffioen continued to expose her opponent’s relative lack of movement around the court the longer the match went on and she took the opening set 6-2 in 24 minutes.

Ellerbrock comfortably broke serve in the first game of the second set, while Griffioen saved game point in the second game with a supremely executed lob that was applauded by her opponent. However, Griffioen netted two backhands in the space of three points to give Ellerbrock another 2-0 lead.

It was Ellerbrock’s turn to net a backhand on game point in the third game, while Griffioen set up two break points with a backhand down the line as she tried to level the set. She found the net on the first of them, but Ellerbrock missed the Dutchwoman’s baseline with a backhand and, as in the first set, the two players were level after the first four games.

Ellerbrock earned three break points in the fifth and after Griffioen saved the first with a cross court forehand winner, a net cord helped Ellerbrock edge back ahead as Griffioen was forced to chip a backhand return at the next that gave Ellerbrock the time to execute a winning lob for 3-2.

With a point for a 4-2 lead, Ellerbrock slotted a forehand down the line to restore a two game cushion, but with the crowd treated to some tense baseline rallies midway through the second set it was Griffioen that had the better of the exchanges and  she went onto serve out to love to stay within a game of her opponent.

Griffioen had three break points on Ellerbrock’s serve in the next and despite being forced to deuce she finally left the fourth seed stranded mid court with another proficient lob that restored parity in the set.

I the fifth game Griffioen ran into the court surrounds at the back of the court, leaving a hole in once of them and although she went on to have game point before an exchange of deuces, Ellerbrock got the better of the closing exchanges to move to within a game of levelling the match.

Ellerbrock twice came within a game of levelling the match at 5-4 and 6-5, but Griffioen’s backhand proved steady on both occasions and she finally managed to force the tiebreak.

After an early mini break, Ellerbrock again benefitted from another net cord to lead the tiebreak 3-1 and she extended her advantage to 5-2 after Griffioen hit a tight forehand into the net. But she Ellerbrock missed Griffioen’s the baseline with an attempt at a forehand winner to make it 5-3 and after the rally of the match Griffioen put away a forehand volley for 5-4.

Having seen her comfortable lead disappear Ellerbrock put in a double fault for 5-5, but then had a set point at 6-5, which Griffioen calmly saved with a backhand down the line winner.

Two errors from Ellerbrock brought the match to an end as she missed the sideline with an attempted backhand down line to set up match point. One final backhand into the net ensured that for the third time in six Paralympic Tennis Events there will be an all-Dutch podium on Saturday when Griffioen lines up alongside finalists Esther Vergeer and Aniek van Koot for the Dutch National Anthem.

“I'm very happy. I had a tough draw here. Facing Esther (Vergeer) in the semis wasn't easy,” said Griffioen. “I played well, but I couldn't beat her, so then you have only one chance left for a medal and you play a tough opponent, so I am very happy to win this one.

"It was a shaky start. I was a bit nervous, but luckily I was able to get that third game.  So you are on the scoreboard, and that's a good feeling, and, after that, in the first set I think I was pretty dominant.  But after that, in the second, perhaps because of nerves, I didn't find the angles anymore, so I was giving her more opportunity to play. My service has never been my strongest point, so I was struggling with that a little bit, but luckily not too many double faults,” added Griffioen."

Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.