Photo: Gregory PicoutShingo Kunieda (JPN)
Seven weeks to the day to the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Tennis Event, Japan’s Shingo Kunieda posted further evidence that he will be a tough opponent to beat as he goes for his second successive gold medal after defeating current world No. 1 Stephane Houdet of France in the men’s single semifinals at the Swiss Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
The last two of the four head-to-heads this year between the two players had seen Houdet and Kunieda beat each other in two final set tiebreaks at Roland Garros and the BNP Paribas French Open last month and they again went to a decider in Switzerland after Houdet had won the first set for the loss of just one game.
However, world No. 4 Kunieda regrouped to gain the momentum in the second set and maintained his grip on the match to close out a 16 62 62 victory to aid his bid to climb back towards the top of the world rankings.
In the other semifinal world No. 10 Gordon Reid of Great Britain stayed in touch with world No. 2 Maikel Scheffers of the Netherlands for the first four games of both sets they played, but Scheffers dominated when it really mattered and kept his Swiss Open title defence on track with a 62 62 victory.
Ellerbrock upsets defending champion to reach women’s final
However, the defending champion in the women’s singles saw her title defence come to an end as Germany’s world No. 4 Sabine Ellerbrock beat Dutch world No. 2 Aniek van Koot in a rematch of the 2011 final.
Third seed Ellerbrock came from a set down in a closely fought semifinal and won the crucial points to gain just her second career win over van Koot 36 63 64.
Ellerbrock will play world No. 1 Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands in the final.
The best part of nine years and six months after losing her last singles match to Australia’s Daniel di Toro at the end of January 2003, Vergeer secured her 460th successive victory as she eased past di Toro 63 61.
Wagner and Hard to meet in rematch of 2011 final
There was a minor upset in the quad singles semifinals as world No. 8 Anders Hard of Sweden set up a rematch of the 2011 final in Geneva.
Hard put in a confident performance as he beat Britain’s world No. 6 Jamie Burdekin 63 60 and will now play defending champion David Wagner of USA for the title for the second successive year.
Wagner held off a determined first set challenge from his fellow American Bryan Barten in their semifinal, but the world No. 1 powered through the second set to wrap up a 75 60 victory.
There was an upset in the seedings in the men’s doubles final as second seeds Reid and Scheffers paired up to beat French top seeds and reigning Paralympic champions Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz 63 46 61.
Fourteen years after winning their first women’s doubles title together on the NEC Tour at the 1998 Swiss Open and six years on from winning their fifth title together in Geneva, two-time Paralympic champions Maaike Smit and Vergeer clinched their sixth tournament title.
Smit and Vergeer defeated second seeds Kanako Domori of Japan and Germany’s Katharina Kruger 61 60 to claim their first title as a partnership since Roland Garros in 2007.
Meanwhile, Barten and Wagner were on the same side of the net as the top seeds paired up to win the quad doubles final after a 63 64 win over Hard and his fellow countryman Marcus Jonsson.
Swiss Open - Latest Draws
Order of Play - Sunday, 15 July 2012