16 May 2010

Kunieda, Di Toro and Wagner win Japan Open


NEWS ARTICLE

PLEASE NOTE: Video recordings of the Japan Open men's singles and women's finals and one of the men's double semifinals are currently available to watch on the same web portal that hosted the live webcasts for all three matches. Please click here.

Shingo Kunieda (JPN), Daniela di Toro (AUS) and David Wagner (USA) won Sunday's men's main draw singles, women's singles and quad singles finals at the Japan Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, as the second Super Series event of 2010 drew to a close in Iizuka, Fukuoka.

World No. 1 Kunieda was in incredible form as he sped through the first set of the men's final in a rematch of the 2009 decider against world No. 2 Stephane Houdet (FRA). Kunieda clinched the opening set on his second set point and without dropping a game and looked to be cruising to victory when Houdet double-faulted to give him a 2-0 lead.

The Frenchman waved his arms in partial irony as he won an incredible rally to help take the third game of the set to deuce, but had to wait until the next game before converting his first game point of the match. Kunieda sent a backhand wide to give Houdet his first game and the Frenchman sparked thoughts of a memorable comeback as he then won his second game in succession, but Kunieda soon halted the Houdet's momentum, producing a love service game to increase his second set lead to 5-2.

Once again Houdet dug deep and some accurate backhands helped reduce his deficit to 5-4. But, he was unable to complete the comeback and Kunieda eventually clinched his fifth successive Japan Open title with a 60 64 victory.

Australian world No. 6 Daniela di Toro won her sixth Japan Open women's singles title after a 62 64 victory over Dutch top seed Sharon Walraven in Iizuka on Sunday.

The second seed edged a long third game in the final and Walraven double-faulted on game point in the fourth game to give di Toro a 3-1 lead. The Australian continued to pressurise Walraven and won a first love service game to extend her lead to 5-2 before converting her second set point to seize the initiative.

Di Toro returned from a comfort break to break Walraven immediately at the start of the second set with the aid of some penetrating forehands, but Walraven served out her first love game to level at 2-2 and then edged ahead for the first time in the match. Some entertaining rallies followed as the two players exchanged the next four games, di Toro eventually putting away an overhead smash to move to within one game of victory.

With Walraven serving to stay in the match, she saved one match point with a perfectly executed backhand passing shot, but sent a subsequent backhand long over di Toro's baseline to give the former world No. 1 a second match point. This time di Toro needed no further invitation to seal the victory and put away another forehand smash to secure her first Japan Open title since 2002 and her first Super Series title since making her comeback to the sport in 2007.

In a rematch of the 2007 quad singles final in Iizuka, world No. 2 Wagner took on Canadian world No. 5 and second seed Sarah Hunter, but Hunter's quest to dethrone Wagner met with little success on the day and the American went on to retain his title after a 60 60 victory.

Another 60 60 victory later in the day saw Japanese top seeds Kunieda and Satoshi Saida defeat French second seeds Frederic Cattaneo and Nicolas Peifer in the men's main draw doubles final.

Meanwhile, Walraven left Iizuka with one title under her belt after partnering Thailand's Sakhorne Khanthasit to beat Kanako Domori (JPN) and Myung-Hee Hwang (KOR) 60 62 in the women's doubles final.

Japan Open Official Website.

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