2011 Invacare Doubles Masters Draw Ceremony
The 2011 Invacare Doubles Masters gets underway at the Frans Otten Stadium in Amsterdam on Wednesday, marking a new era for the prestigious year-end championship for the world’s leading wheelchair tennis doubles players, as Invacare become title sponsor for the first time and the Frans Otten Stadium comes host venue for the first time after previously hosting the NEC Singles Masters.
Maikel Scheffers and Ronald Vink bid for their fourth Doubles Masters title since 2006, with Scheffers looking to secure a unique double at the Frans Otten Stadium, having become Wheelchair Tennis Singles Masters champion at the same venue in 2009.
The reigning Wimbledon champions have won the last two Doubles Masters finals and have won of the longest established and most successful of all doubles partnerships in this year’s men’s field.
The Dutch pairing have inflicted the only two defeats that Robin Ammerlaan and Stephane Houdet have ever experienced as a doubles partnership, both of Ammerlaan and Houdet’s defeats coming in the last two Doubles Masters finals and a third successive final between the two teams is a distinct possibility
Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer are also among the most regular doubles partners in the elite field of eight and will hope they can at least equal their feat of a place in the semi-finals in 2009 before finishing fifth last year.
On the other hand, former champion Michael Jeremiasz and Tom Egberink arrive at the Doubles Masters with a perfect record as a doubles partnership, having won their first tournament together at last week’s Nottingham Indoor and are likely to be amongst the contenders for a place in the last four.
Since Stefan Olsson and Peter Vikstrom became Doubles Masters champions in 2008 in their first tournament after winning silver in the men’s doubles at the Beijing Paralympics, their major successes as a partnership have come whilst steering Sweden to two World Team Cup titles. The Swedish duo come into this year’s Doubles Masters as the eighth ranked partnership based on their current combined rankings, but their past successes suggest that will be aiming for a much better finish than eighth.
It may be difficult to see past an all-Dutch final in the women’s doubles, as Esther Vergeer and Sharon Walraven have beaten compatriots Jiske Griffioen and Aniek van Koot in all four Grand Slam finals in 2011.
However, the prospect of both partnerships meeting again in Amsterdam is an enticing one, not just for the home fans, but for the sport itself after Griffioen and van Koot had match points against Vergeer and Walraven at Wimbledon this year and again took them to a deciding set at the US Open in New York.
Whatever the outcome this year a new winning partnership will be added to the roll of honour of women’s champions at the Doubles Masters, with Griffioen having previously collected five Doubles Masters titles partnering Vergeer, while van Koot partnered Walraven to victory in 2010 to secure Walraven the year-end world No. 1 women’s doubles world ranking for the very first time.
But this is not to dismiss the chances of the other two pairings in the event. British duo Lucy Shuker and Jordanne Whiley reached the Doubles Masters final in 2010, but were beaten Marjolein Buis and Annick Sevenans in the third place play-off at Wimbledon this year, the only other time that all four doubles partnerships have lined up in the same event previously.
Buis and Sevenans have the distinction of also having taken Vergeer and Walraven to a third and deciding set in their semifinal at Wimbledon in July and have played close matches against Griffioen and van Koot on several occasions this season, including in the semifinals of the Australian Open and the US Open and the final of the British Open, but have yet to beat either of the all-Dutch partnerships.
The recent withdrawal of 2010 champions Andrew Lapthorne and Peter Norfolk leaves American two-time Paralympic champions Americans Nick Taylor and David Wagner as the favourites for this year’s event, having won the Doubles Masters title together on four previous occasions.
Aside from Taylor and Wagner, Italy’s Marco Innocenti and Giuseppe Polidori have played more matches together than the other two pairings in the field, Bryan Barten and Anders Hard and Antonio Raffaele and Dorrie Timmermans-van Hall. .
Polidori is a previous Doubles Masters finalist with fellow Italian Raffaele as his partner but, on paper, he and Innocenti will need to spring a surprise to reach this year’s final, while Hard takes part in the event for the second time and Barten makes his debut.
With Raffaele and Timmermans-van Hall coming into the field following the withdrawal of Lapthorne and Norfolk, the quad event now features two more former finalists.
The draw for the 2011 Invacare Doubles Masters took place at Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday evening and was attended by all the players as well as representatives from title sponsor Invacare, the City of Amsterdam, KNLTB, the ITF and other sponsors and supporters of the event.
The men’s draw of two pools of four teams sees defending champions Scheffers and Vink in the same pool as 2008 champions Olsson and Vikstrom, along with Egberink and Jeremiasz and Cazeaudumec and Legner.
Meanwhile, second seeds Ammerlaan and Houdet will face former semifinalists Cattaneo and Peifer, the second all-French pairing of Dalmasso and Majdi and Britons Marc McCarroll and Gordon Reid, runners-up to Egberink and Jeremiasz in Nottingham last weekend.
With all four pairings in the women’s and quad events playing each other over the next three days of pool matches, the women’s event opens with the same match-ups as in the Wimbledon semi-finals in July, with Vergeer and Walraven taking on Buis and Sevenans and second seeds Griffioen and van Koot playing Shuker and Whiley.
Wednesday’s opening matches in the quad event see top seeds Taylor and Wagner play Raffaele and Timmerman-van Hall, while second seeds Barten and Hard face Innocenti and Polidori.