28 Jan 2010

Kunieda and Houdet into Australian Open final


NEWS ARTICLE

The top two seeds will contest both Saturday's men's singles and women's singles finals at the Australian Open in Melbourne, while Peter Norfolk stays unbeaten in the quad singles after a second fascinating day of play at the year's first Grand Slam.

For the second successive year, Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Stephane Houdet (FRA) will go head-to-head in the men's singles final, with Kunieda on course for a possible fourth Australian Open title.

The Japanese world No. 1 and former champion Robin Ammerlaan (NED) swapped service breaks for the seven games of their semifinal, but Kunieda secured the crucial first service hold to establish a two game cushion at 5-3. Although Ammerlaan held his next service game, Kunieda replied in kind to take the first set.

Kunieda held to love to also give himself a two game cushion in the second set and then secured one final break to seal a 64 62 victory.

Martin Legner (AUT) broke Houdet in the opening game of the other semifinal, but that was to be the only time that Legner held any advantage over the world No. 2 as Houdet reeled off nine games in succession to triumph 62 60 after serving out on his second match point.

Two enthralling men's doubles semifinals ended in victories for the two seeded partnerships. However, Dutch top seeds Ammerlaan and Maikel Scheffers were given plenty of early trouble by Stefan Olsson (SWE) and Ben Weekes (AUS), who snatched the first set. Ammerlaan and Scheffers took a 5-1 second set lead, but Olsson and Weekes still proved persistent and in the end the Dutch duo came away with a 46 64 62 victory.

Second seeds Houdet and Kunieda faced a similarly tough challenge from former Doubles Masters champions Legner and Satoshi Saida (JPN), but again won the points that mattered to prevail 63 64.

Homan taken to three sets again, but reaches final against Gravellier

For the second day in succession, world No. 2 Korie Homan had to go to a deciding set after being extended by her fellow Dutchwoman Aniek van Koot.

Despite a series of closely fought and lengthy exchanges, van Koot won just the opening game of the first set, but put herself on course to take Homan to three sets for the first time since 2007 as she opened up a 3-1 second set advantage. Homan broke back to edge ahead again, but failed to convert a match point when serving at 5-4 up and van Koot went on to force a tiebreak after saving three more match points in a row.

No more than one point separated Homan and van Koot for the first eight points of the tiebreak, but then van Koot managed to string together four points in succession to take the semifinal into a third set. However, world No. 6 van Koot was unable to take that momentum in to the decider and Homan emerged the victor 61 67(4) 62.

Homan will play world No. 3 and second seed Florence Gravellier (FRA) on Saturday after the Frenchwoman reached her first Grand Slam singles final with a masterful performance against Jiske Griffioen (NED). Gravellier broke immediately and narrowly missed out on taking a 3-0 lead in her semifinal, but sealed the final three games of the first set, breaking Griffioen to love on her first set point.

Gravellier quickly established a 4-0 lead in the second set and although Griffioen claimed back one of the breaks, Gravellier closed out a 62 64 victory in an hour and two minutes.

Before Saturday's singles final, Homan and Gravellier were due to go head-to-head in Thursday's women's doubles semifinals. However, with Homan protecting a injury ahead of the final, she and Griffioen withdrew from their semi, handing a walkover to Gravellier and van Koot.

Gravellier and van Koot will play Daniela di Toro (AUS) and Lucy Shuker (GBR) in the final after last season's Wimbledon finalists eased past Katharina Kruger (GER) and Annick Sevenans (BEL) 61 61.

Norfolk recovers to edge Wagner

The first of two possible contests this week between the world's top two quad players went the way of Peter Norfolk (GBR) during the second set of quad singles round-robin matches. However, the world No. 1 had to forget a second set slump to earn his passage past David Wagner (USA).

A run of four games saw Norfolk close out the first set, but the Briton registered only 11 points during the second set, failing to get a game on the board. However, another sequence of four games in succession gave Norfolk a 5-2 cushion in the deciding set and after Wagner had missed opportunities to close the gap to 5-4, Norfolk converted his third match point to prevail 62 06 63.

Norfolk plays Johan Andersson in his last round-robin match on Friday, while Wagner plays his compatriot Nick Taylor. Taylor kept his hopes of reaching the final alive on Thursday with a comprehensive 63 60 victory over Johan Andersson (SWE).

Friday's schedule will feature the men's doubles, women's doubles and quad doubles finals, as well as the remaining two round-robin matches in the quad singles. These matches are due to take place on Courts 2, 6 and 7, with play on all courts due to begin at 15.00 local Melbourne time.

Live scoring will be available for all matches.


Complete Schedule of Play - Friday, 29 January

Draws

Men's Singles
Men's Doubles
Women's Singles
Women's Doubles
Quad Singles
Quad Doubles

Australian Open Official Website

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