Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportNicholas Taylor (USA)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: USA’s Nicholas Taylor finally secured his first Paralympic quad singles medal by defeating Israel’s Shraga Weinberg 16 63 64 on Friday to claim bronze at Eton Manor.
Taylor had lost in the bronze medal play-off at the last two Games in Athens and Beijing, but it was third time lucky for the American as he came from a set down to defeat Weinberg on Court 1.
Weinberg got off to a flying start and broke Taylor’s opening serve to take a 2-0 lead. After a long game, the American finally netted an easy forehand on break point to hand the Israeli an early advantage.
There was a temporary reprieve for Taylor in the next game when he broke back to trail 2-1, but it was to be short-lived as Weinberg lifted his standard to a new level and won four straight games to take the first set.
Taylor, who is the only player at London 2012 to use a powerchair, couldn’t cope with Weinberg’s greater of variety of shots. In particular, the left-hander’s serve was proving to be a particularly effective weapon, notching five aces in the first set alone.
Buoyed by some noisy support from the American fans, Taylor mounted a comeback in the second set. He won his opening service game, which was his first hold of the match, and immediately followed up with a break to move 2-0 ahead.
The Israeli responded by breaking to get back to 2-1, just as his opponent had done to him in the first set, but Taylor regrouped and once again forged ahead to lead 4-1. The American’s forehand was becoming more of an influence on the match, coupled with an increase in errors from the Weinberg racket.
The second set continued on serve until, at 5-3, Taylor held to force the match into a deciding set. At 30-30, a mishit return from Weinberg landed just out to bring up a set point, and the American only needed one chance.
The momentum was well and truly with Taylor now and he rode the wave to race into a 4-0 lead in the third set. Weinberg rallied and reduced the deficit to 4-2, but it looked like the hill he was climbing was about to become a mountain when he faced three break points in the next game.
The Israeli found a way to hold, however, and immediately changed ends and broke Taylor to level at 4-4. Now Weinberg, who was also bidding for his first quad singles medal, was suddenly favourite in this topsy-turvy match, but there was time for one final twist.
Taylor lifted his game to break Weinberg out of the blue before serving out for the bronze medal amid jubilant scenes on Court 1. He finally sealed victory after 1 hour 44 minutes of intense battle.
“I'm feeling a little overwhelmed,” said Taylor. “It's taken me since 2004 to get a medal in the singles. I’m so excited. I don’t know how to describe this feeling. I've come so close both times and to finally get it here is huge for me.
“If someone had said to me before I came to the Games that I would get a bronze medal, I would not have believed them. Shraga played unbelievable (in the first set). He couldn't miss, it shocked me. I thought this may be my third bronze to lose. I didn't think I could do it.”
Taylor, who teamed up with David Wagner to win the third quad doubles gold medal of their careers on Thursday, will now be supporting his doubles partner from the sidelines in the world No. 1's quest to become Paralympic quad singles champion for the first time. Wagner meets another Israeli, Noam Gershony, in the final on Saturday.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.