Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportShingo Kunieda (JPN)
LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN: The London 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event will come to an end on Saturday with what could be a piece of history as Shingo Kunieda of Japan aims to become the first player to win back-to-back men’s singles gold medals.
At the last two Paralympics the silver medal winners, David Hall of Australia and Robin Ammerlaan of the Netherlands, were the gold medal winners from their previous Games, and the player between Kunieda and a moment of history is world No. 1Stephane Houdet of France.
Houdet will create his own piece of history, too, as the highest place finishes previously for French players were the bronze medals won by Laurent Giammartini in Barcelona in 1992 and by Michael Jeremiasz in Athens in 2004.
Three of Houdet’s six career victories over Kunieda have come this season, most notably in the final at Roland Garros, where Houdet won a final set tiebreak. Within a month Kunieda has beaten Houdet in a final set tiebreak at the French Open Super Series and they again went to three sets in their latest meeting at the Swiss Open.
The men’s singles bronze medal will go to a Dutch player as world No. 3 Maikel Scheffers and world No. 4 Ronald Vink go head-to-head for the second Paralympic Games in succession, with Scheffers aiming to repeat his bronze medal-winning victory over Vink in Beijing four years ago.
Both players are well matched in their career head -to-heads, with Scheffers leading narrowly 18-15, while he has won the last two of the three matches he and Vink have played this season.
There will be another all-Dutch contest for the women’s doubles gold medal as Esther Vergeer aims to win her third doubles gold medal, having won her only Paralympic silver medal in the women’s doubles in Beijing.
While Vergeer aims for her third doubles gold medal, her partner, Marjolein Buis, is playing in her first Paralympic Games.
The top seeds will face tough opposition from second seeds Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot, with the two partnerships have won two of the four matches they have contested this season. Griffioen and van Koot’s two wins over Buis and Vergeer have both come in Great Britain and they will hope to make it a hat-trick after winning their semifinal at Wimbledon and the women’s doubles final at the British Open.
Griffioen was the player who partnered Vergeer to silver in Beijing, while, like Buis, van Koot is making her Paralympic Games debut.
For the first time there will be a new Paralympic Tennis Event quad singles gold medallist as David Wagner of USA takes on Noam Gershony of Israel.
Wagner already has singles silver and bronze medals from the last two Games but narrowly trails world No. 2 and Paralympic Games debutant Gershony 5-4 in career head-to-heads,, with the Israeli having won three of the five matches they have won to date in 2012.
Follow the scores from the Paralympic Tennis Event on the Schedule page.