28 Jul 2008

Kunieda and Norfolk win British Open crowns


NEWS ARTICLE

Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Peter Norfolk (GBR) won Sunday’s Men’s Main Draw Singles and Quad Singles finals respectively as the 19th British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships drew to an exciting close at the City of Nottingham Tennis Centre.

Meanwhile, top seeds Esther Vergeer and Jiske Griffioen successfully retained their Women’s Doubles title in an all-Dutch final against second seeds Korie Homan and Sharon Walraven

In the Men’s Main Draw Singles final world No 2 Robin Ammerlaan (NED) retrieved an early break, only to see world No 1 Kunieda secure a second break to serve for the first set at 5-4. The top seed then earned three set points and, while a determined Ammerlaan hit successive forehand winners on the first two match points, the Dutchman hit another forehand long over Kunieda’s baseline on the third set point.

With the momentum in his favour, Kunieda raced in to a 4-0 second set lead and went on to retain his second successive British Open title after a 64 62 victory.

“I have not felt too well for much of the week, so I am very pleased to win my second British Open” said Kunieda. “It is always tough to play Robin, but my backhand slice was superb today and this gives me great confidence for the Paralympics.”

There could not have been a more exciting start to Sunday’s three main draw finals as Norfolk clinched a final set tiebreak to win his fourth British Open title in six years.

Norfolk eased through the first set of his Quad Singles final against world No 1 ranked Quad player David Wagner (USA) for the loss of just the fourth game, with Wagner hitting a backhand in to the net on the first of two set points on Norfolk’s serve.

However, the World No 2 ranked Briton lost his focus in the second set and had his service broken to love on two occasions as Wagner played some superb tennis to take the second set 6-2.

Wagner broke Norfolk to love again in the second game of the final set, but Norfolk managed to regain his focus to level the contest after breaking Wagner to love in the sixth game of the set. However, once again the tide turned and when serving for the match in the ninth game of the set the American skimmed the net cord at 30-30. With the ball bouncing low, Norfolk was in danger of going a match point down, but scrambled the return back and went on to clinch the game before a forehand winner levelled the set again at 5-5.

Norfolk went on to force the tie-break before winning an exchange of volleys to go 4-2 ahead. Wagner then double faulted to give Norfolk four match points and the American put a back hand in the net on the next point, sealing a 61 26 76(2) victory for Norfolk that follows up his previous wins in Nottingham in 2003, 2005 and 2006. Sunday’s victory also brought Norfolk the 13th Super Series title of his career.

“I played really well in the first set and thought I was going to win it in straight sets,” said Norfolk. “That meant I completely lost my focus in the second set and David upped his game and showed what a great player he is. Thankfully, I got myself back together in the final set and I’m very pleased with how I played the pressure points. It’s an incredible feeling to win my fourth British Open.”

The third Super Series event of the 2008 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour concluded with Griffioen and Vergeer clinching their 38th doubles title as a partnership as they retained the Women’s Doubles title with a 76(6) 61 victory.

The top seeds, beaten only once since first pairing up in April 2004, struggled in the first set and went a 3-0 down before coming back to snatch the tie-break. However, after a comfort break Griffioen and Vergeer came back on to court with renewed focus and eased through the second set relatively comfortably.

Fourteen-year-old Philip Cochrane won the Junior Singles, beating 17-year-old Andrew Lapthorne in an all-British final.

One of just three tournaments on the 2008 NEC Wheelchair Tennis to have Super Series status, this year’s British Open has featured 120 players from 25 countries, including all of the world top 10 Men’s and Quad players and nine of the world’s top 10 Women’s players, for whom the British Open was the last major event before the Paralympic Tennis Event in Beijing in September.

To view the final drawsheets, please visit www.lta.org.uk/News

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