22 May 2011

Kunieda, Griffioen, Wagner win Japan Open titles

News Article


Shingo Kunieda and David Wagner retained their Japan Open men's singles and quad singles titles respectively on Sunday in Iizuka, Fukuoka, while Jiske Griffioen battled past fellow Dutchwoman Marjolein Buis in three sets to regain the women's singles title she first won in 2005.

Due to heavy rain, Sunday's three main draw singles finals had to be moved indoors. However, this did not affect the tennis itself as 500 spectators lined-up to watch the women and quad singles finals being played simultaneously.

Later in the day the weather dried up, allowing the men's and women's doubles final to be played outdoors, with the second ITF Super Series tournament on the 2011 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour ending with a first Super Series doubles title for exciting Japanese 17-year-old Yui Kamiji in increasingly warmer and sunnier conditions.

Men's Singles Final

Kunieda once again demonstrated that he is on an absolute different level to his peers. He is so fast around the court and so precise with all his shots that he dominates at both the baseline and the net.

His opponent, Japanese compatriot and friend Satoshi Saida had no response to the sublime technique of the current World No. 1 as Kunieda took the 1st set 6-0.

Kunieda served to start the second set and although Saida produced some good defence, Kunieda's furious attacks saw him take the first game with a winning backhand volley that landed right on the line.

It is the way that Kunieda attacks the serve that makes the difference, turning a defensive shot into a winner and he raced to a 2-0 lead in seconds. Mixing up his serves so effectively and with two aces it was soon 3-0 and Kunieda was providing a real masterclass. Despite feeling for Saida, time and time again you are left in awe of Shingo; every shot is almost perfect.

Saida fought back to go 40-30 in the next game, but Kunieda clubbed two winning returns, then followed up with a smash at the net to claw back the game to deuce. Saida gained a massive round of applause as he kept his nerve and got a game on the board, but with Kunieda again serving he made up ground to retrieve balls that you think he can't reach and he pulled out a sliced backhand down the line winner. He subsequently wrapped up the game with a cross-court forehand that fizzed right above the net and landed on the line to make it 4-1.

Kunieda showed that he is human, after all, when a Saida second serve hit the frame of Kunieda's racket and flew out of the court. However, Kunieda followed that up with a winner and after a good rally the top seed's power saw him smash a forehand winner. A Saida double fault handed Kunieda two break points in the next game and although Saida saved the first, Kunieda attacked the second serve and a backhand winner provided the opportunity try and serve out the match.

With the title in his grasp, another power shot saw Kunieda go 15-0 up and then an ace left him two points away from his sixth successive Japan Open title. Another good rally saw an outstretched Saida hit a winner to make it 30-15 and Kunieda tried a cushioned backhand that hit the net for 30-30. However, Saida sent his next return into the net to give Kunieda match point and an exact saw Kunieda wrap up a comprehensive 60 61 victory in just 50 minutes.

There was one final excitement left as Shingo fired balls and wristbands into the crowd and with pens at the ready, the queue of autograph seekers soon formed. Once again, it was a demonstration of why Kunieda is a real superstar in Japan!

Women's Singles Final

First-time Super Series finalist and world No. 8 Buis took the early initiative to race to a 3-0 lead. However, second seed Griffioen soon found her game and with some crisp ground strokes finished with neat volleys at the net, she clawed her way back to 3-2 before levelling the contest.

With Buis serving and the first set poised at 3-3, Griffioen undoubtedly had the momentum, but Buis managed to serve an ace to force deuce. Some great rallies ensued, with both players exchanging powerful shots but, Buis eventually managed to hold serve to edge 4-3 ahead.

With Griffioen now fired up and pumping her fist, she served an ace, followed by a great forehand cross-court winner to go 30-0 up, but Buis showed some good defence qualities to frustrate her opponent to the point that Griffioen twice threw her racket to the ground twice. However, on the third deuce of the game Griffioen showed her resilience with a sliced backhand winner after serving a double fault. A repeat sequence produced the fourth deuce of the game and with tensions running high Griffioen once again went an ad point down. However, she pulled off a great serve to force yet another deuce 4 and followed it up with two strong plays to level the set again at 4-4.

Buis's next service game let her down, with a double fault and three unforced errors to give Griffioen the vital break and a chance to serve for the set, which she duly did after putting pressure on Buis, who was really stretched on the last two points with Griffioen's accurate and powerful backhands causing the damage.

The quality of Griffioen's backhand slice, delivered with calm and poise, helped her take the first two points of the second set, but Buis showed her grit and determination and she fought back to the frustration of her opponent, who then sends two successive shots long at the end of long rallies. Buis subsequently gained another early break to go 2-0 ahead, but after having a little talk to herself Griffioen began to work Buis around the court with accurate shots, forcing the errors and earning a break back for 1-2.

Buis turned on the style and three successive powerful winning shots saw her break again at 3-1, while her next service games produced some tense exchanges before the crowed looked on open-mouthed at arguably the longest rally of the match before Buis finally held her nerve and delivered a good disguised shot to extend her second set lead to 4-1.

With the final now producing some great tennis, another long rally to start the sixth game of the set was followed by a double fault from Griffioen as she slipped 15-30 behind, but she made amends with a strong serve before another Double fault caused her frustration to resurface. Buis went on to attack another second serve and hit a return backhand winner to go 5-1 up before calmly chalking up two successive points to lead 30-15 as she served for the set. However, a couple of misjudgements followed by a weak shot into the net handed one break back to Griffioen.

Griffioen played a solid service game to reduce her deficit to 5-3, but a frustrated Buis managed to channel her aggression and some good power play saw her hit a crosscourt forehand winner after a long rally to level the ninth game of the set at 15-15. Both players exchanged some long shots in the next three points, Griffioen's second long ball being followed by up with a shot that hit the net to give Buis the set 6-3 and ensure a deciding set for the engrossed spectators.

After both players held serve, Buis made the first breakthrough by taking advantage of Griffioen's growing frustration and broke to lead 3-2 in the third. The younger Dutchwoman put real pressure on her opponent, but Griffioen's hard work was rewarded when Buis put a backhand into the net after yet another marathon rally. With nerves setting in, Griffioen hit an unreturnable shot to break straight back 3-3 and stormed to 40-0 on her own serve, but a d