21 May 2006

Kunieda and Gravellier claim first Super Series titles in Japan


NEWS ARTICLE

By  (All photos: Akira Ando)

Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Florence Gravellier (FRA) claimed the first Super Series titles of their careers on Sunday when they won the Men's and Women's Main Draw Singles finals respectively at the Japan Open, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, in Iizuka.

Meanwhile, Peter Norfolk (GBR) earned a probable return to the top of the World Quad Singles rankings after claiming his third Japan Open and his Ninth Super Series crown in total.

Having inflicted a first defeat of the year on World No 1 Michael Jeremiasz (FRA) in Saturday's semi-finals, third seed Kunieda maintained his rich vein of form to overwhelm second seed and compatriot Satoshi Saida 60 62 in the Men's Main Draw Singles final and earn himself a new when the career high ranking when then new NEC Tour rankings are published.

Top seed Gravellier had a stiffer task in the first set of the Women's Singles final against third seed Sharon Walraven (NED), but having gained the advantage she soon eased away to her first Super Series crown with a 64 60 victory, thereby reinforcing her World No 2 ranking.

In the Quad Main Draw Singles final Norfolk justified his top seeding to beat second seed Tzu-Hsuan-Huang (TPE) 62 60. After a few long rallies early in the match, Norfolk started to take the ball earlier and soon eased away to claim his third successive Japan Open crown.

With current World No 1 Quad David Wagner (USA) not contesting the Japan Open, Norfolk is now set to return to the top of the rankings.

The Men's Main Draw Doubles final saw Jeremiasz and Saida gain a measure of revenge over Kunieda for their singles defeats as the top seeds edge out second seeds Kunieda and Jayant Mistry (GBR) 64 64.

In the Women's Doubles final Dutch top seeds Jiske Griffioen and Maaike Smit also gained some compensation for their semi-final defeats in the singles as they staged a remarkable turnaround in fortunes to overcome second seeds Gravellier and Walraven 26 75 60.

Huang also made up for his Quad Singles defeat when pairing up with Masao Takashima (JPN) in the Quad Doubles final, the unseeded partership maintaining the splendid form they have shown all week to defeat second seeds Ryuuji Kakinokihara and Sadahiro Kimura (JPN) 62 64.

The final drawsheets and more photos can be accessed via the official 2006 Japan Open Tournament Website.



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