24 May 2009

Kunieda, Gravellier, Wagner win Japan Open titles

News Article

Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Florence Gravellier (FRA) were crowned men's and women's singles champions on Sunday at the Japan Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis, in Iizuka, Fukuoka.

Shown in a live WebCast to wheelchair tennis fans around the world, thanks to a partnership between NEC and a Japanese portal for people with disabilities, Kunieda clinched his fourth successive Japan Open men's main draw singles title. World No.1 Kunieda beat world No.2 Stephane Houdet (FRA) 61 64.

Earlier in the day, Gravellier won her second Japan Open title, the top seed following securing a repeat of her 2006 triumph with a 63 64 victory in the final against Sharon Walraven (NED).

Kunieda sped through the first set of the men's final against Houdet for the loss of just one game. The top seed then won the first two games of the second set before held serve to get back on the scoreboard.

Kunieda extended his lead to 3-1 before Houdet missed an overhead smash to see another game slip away. However, the French second seed regrouped and broke Kunieda's serve in the next game, securing game point with an exquisite looping shot that Kuineda was unable to return.

Houdet kept the momentum going as he went 40-0 up in his next service game. Although he was unable to find the tramlines on his first two game points, Houdet pulled another game back as Kunieda hit his service return wide on the third game point.

Houdet had another break point in the next game to level the scores at 4-4, but he was unable to take opportunity and Kunieda opened a two game cushion once again. A close ninth game of the set saw Houdet keep himself in the hunt, but Kunieda calmly earned himself three match points and aced Houdet on the first of them to bring the final to an emphatic conclusion.

After the match Kunieda and Houdet signed tennis balls for the spectators and all the runners-up were honoured at the closing prize giving ceremony before the 2009 Japan Open champions, Kunieda, Gravellier and David Wagner (USA), were all presented with their trophies.

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