Photo: Pressefoto LauxJoachim Gerard (BEL)
Almost four weeks before the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event, Belgium’s Joachim Gerard picked up the first ITF 1 Series title of his career when he won the men’s singles final at the Salzburg Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
Fourth seed Gerard contested a dramatic men’s singles final against second seed Nicolas Peifer of France that saw Peifer need a 20 minute repair to his tennis wheelchair in only the third game of the match. With the temporary repairs made, Peifer had to change his game plan and played a more careful game to try to avoid putting more stress on his chair.
Peifer’s change in tactics took Gerard some time to get used to, but the 23-year-old Gerard dominated the first set tiebreak before Peifer had a blowout in one of his wheels inbetween sets.
With plenty happening outside of the tennis the second set brought a number of errors on both sides, but at 4-4 Gerard secured the vital break and served out the match with three aces to clinch a 76(2) 64 victory and become the first Belgian to win the Salzburg Open.
“It was a bad match, but of course I’m so happy about my success at this great tournament,” said Gerard.
Di Toro leaves Ellerbrock as runner-up again
World No. 4 Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany had to be content with runners-up honours for the second successive year in Salzburg as di Toro fought back from a set down to win her first ITF 1 Series title of the season.
At 4-4 Ellerbrock gained the break she needed to help her take the first set, but the top seed was unable to stay with di Toro in the two sets that followed as she again struggled with an injury that had never seemed far away in recent tournaments.
The German needed three physio treatments during the match and, after winning last week’s Belgian Open, a second successive ITF 1 title slipped away from her as di Toro wrapped up a 46 62 62 victory.
“We had already had some very tight games before, but today I was really focused on the game,” said di Toro.
Gerard and di Toro’s titles followed Luca Sithole’s quad singles victory on the penultimate day of play at the Salzburg Open, which was the last ITF 1 Series tournament before the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Salzburg Tappe Open Final Results