Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportNoam Gershony (ISR)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: Noam Gershony has won Israel their first ever gold medal at the Paralympic wheelchair tennis event. World number one American David Wagner and Gershony went head to head in the quad singles gold medal match. Wagner is a previous silver medallist in this event whereas Gershony is competing in his first Olympics.
This experience appeared to be in Wagner’s advantage as he was the more comfortable player at the start of the match. Wagner had a breakpoint in the first game but Gershony stayed strong to hold serve.
Wagner however was the one creating opportunities, playing the more attacking tennis with Gershony failing to have found his timing. A double fault by Gershony at 1-1 gave Wagner the desired break.
Errors then featured in Wagner’s play and a double fault gave Noam his first breakpoint. Wagner saves this but makes two more mistakes to give Gershony the break back. This was a crucial game for Gershony who then proceeded to go from strength to strength hitting deeper, less central and more consistent strokes.
Both players at 2-2 started to play some of the best tennis of the match so far with backhand to backhand crosscourt rallies. They were both being moved by their opposition and were managing to just hit the inside of the lines but Gershony was often the more consistent of the two winning the long rallies.
Wagner’s serve let him down serving at 3-2 down. Two double faults at 30-30 gave Gershony the break. This was the pinnacle moment for Gershony who started to play a solid attacking game which Wagner was struggling to deal with. He held serve, leaving Wagner with the task of serving for the set 5-3 down.
Wagner held to win his first game after losing four consecutively but the momentum was all with Gershony. A forehand winner crosscourt gave Gersohny the first set before Wagner started the action of the second set.
Gershony took control from the first game. He used his careful placement of the ball to open up the court hitting into the spaces. Wagner could barely put a racket onto these balls. Gershony much to the delight of a vocal Israeli crowd stormed to a 3-0 lead.
Two double faults gave Wagner 0-40 and he took this opportunity with a slice backhand return winner crosscourt to bring the score to 3-1. This did not deter Gershony who had the gold now well within his sights and a succession of strong returns took him to within two games of being Paralympic champion.
Gershony looked the stronger player of the two and he comfortable held serve to go 5-1 up. If there was a question of potential nerves he dispelled that rumour by hitting a winner of Wagner’s serve first point. In the second set alone Gershony hit 17 winners compared to Wagner’s 5 which one him the match.
Wagner continued to struggle with his serve, winning just 27% of points off his first serve in the second set compared to 69% in the first set. A double fault at 15-30 gave Gershony two match points.
Gershony who was hitting some excelling winners was not going to let this opportunity be missed. A winner past Wagner at the net gave him the match 6-3 6-1 and Israel’s first gold medal in wheelchair tennis.
"Wow, this feeling is almost unbearable. I don't know how to describe it. I haven't realised yet that I have just won gold. It's crazy. There was so much pressure to bring home the gold because I knew I could do it. I barely slept last night. I'm just happy to have made it" Gershony said following the match. "It wasn't an easy match. It wasn't a close call but it was hard. I was very nervous. At the beginning I wasn't able to cope with the pressure and tension. I was stiff and my shots weren't my shots.
Review the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.