Photo: Steve WylieJoachim Gerard (BEL)
Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz and Gordon Reid and Gustavo Fernandez face must-win men’s singles round-robin matches on Thursday at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters to decide which of them will progress from their respective pools after Shingo Kunieda and Joachim Gerard secured semifinal places on Wednesday at Marguerite Tennis Pavilion in Mission Viejo, California.
After losing his opening match to Gerard, world No. 2 Houdet kept his title hopes alive when the 2011 champion beat 2009 champion and world No. 3 Maikel Scheffers 64 64 in Pool 2 of the men’s singles, ending the Dutchman’s chances of regaining the title after two losses.
Gerard ensured his place in the last four as he maintained his 100 per cent record with a 26 62 63 win over Jeremiasz and Houdet and Jeremiasz will now go head-to-head in a crucial all-French contest.
Defending champion Kunieda has dropped just one game in each of his first two matches in Mission Viejo after the Japanese world No. 1 eased to a 61 60 victory over world No. 4 Gordon Reid a month after Reid secured his second win of the season over Kunieda in France.
“I had a great match today,” Kunieda said. “These are the best players in the world and everyone is tough, but I’m fit and ready to move on and play again tomorrow.”
There was drama elsewhere in Pool 1 as Argentina’s world No. 6 Fernandez clinched a second set tiebreak before overcoming French world No. 8 Nicolas Peifer 36 76(6) 64. With Fernandez and Reid both on one win apiece, the winner of their final Pool 1 contest will join Kunieda in the last four.
Griffioen and Buis remain unbeaten
All three Dutch players in the women’s singles maintain hopes of reaching the semifinals after Sharon Walraven won her second match of the week and defending champion Jiske Griffioen and Marjolein Buis both maintained their unbeaten records this week.
Current world No. 10 Walraven, whose entry into this year’s NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters was confirmed following the withdrawal of her fellow Dutchwoman and world No. 1 Aniek van Koot, fought back from a set down against South Africa’s world No. 6 Kgothatso Montjane to win their Pool 2 contest 57 61 64.
Walraven’s chances of making the last four now depend on the result of her final pool match against world No. 3 Griffioen, who won her first match this season against Japan’s world No. 4 Yui Kamiji 63 36 61.
In Pool 1, world No. 5 Buis held on to win her second three set match in successive days, defeating world No. 7 Jordanne Whiley 63 36 62. As both of the second set of round-robin matches in the pool went to three sets, world No. 2 Sabine Ellerbrock bounced back from her opening loss to Whiley to finish much the stronger against Whiley’s fellow Brit Lucy Shuker for a 36 75 60 win.