Photo: Paul ZimmerAndrew Lapthorne (GBR)
Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne and Peter Norfolk successfully retained their quad doubles title on Thursday at the Australian Open Wheelchair Championships, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, at Melbourne Park after they beat Noam Gershony of Israel and David Wagner of USA 64 62.
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Maikel Scheffers and world No. 5 Nicolas Peifer reached the men’s singles final and the world’s top two players, Esther Vergeer and Aniek van Koot, booked their places in the women’s singles final.
After both partnerships exchanged breaks in the opening four games of the quad doubles final, a sequence of three successive games gave Lapthorne and Norfolk a 5-2 lead. Gershony and Wagner retrieved one of the breaks, but the British duo held on to take the opening set after 38 minutes
Defending champions Lapthorne and Norfolk opened up a 5-1 second set lead before Gershony and Wagner held serve to reduce their deficit, but Lapthorne and Wagner converted their second match point to serve out the final after an hour and 13 minutes.
Earlier in the day world No. 2 Norfolk gained his second successive victory in the round-robin phase of the quad singles, putting up a dominant performance to beat world No. 3 Gershony 63 60.
Meanwhile, defending champion and world No. 1 Wagner gained his first singles victory of this year’s Australian Open. Wagner powered through the opening set of his match against Lapthorne and then came from 5-2 down in the second set to prevail 60 76(5).
Wagner will face Norfolk in Friday’s third and final set of round-robin matches, while Gershony will play Lapthorne in a rematch of November’s NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters final.
Peifer and Scheffers set up rematch of Roland Garros final
Roland Garros champion Scheffers looked like he might be heading for his third loss of 2012 after Sweden’s Stefan Olsson clinched the first set of their men’s semifinal 6-2. But Scheffers crucially took the final two games of a tense second set and gained the vital break in a marathon deciding set to record a 26 75 97 victory. The final set alone took over an hour to complete and despite losing the match Olsson ended it having won a total of 111 points to the 110 won by Scheffers.
In the other semifinal Peifer ended world No. 3 Stephane Houdet’s hopes of reaching a fourth successive Australian Open final as the younger Frenchman clinched the big points to earn a 64 64 victory and book a place in a Grand Slam final for the third time. Peifer and Scheffers will now go head-to-head in a rematch of the 2011 Roland Garros final.
World’s top two reach women’s final
In the women’s singles semifinals Esther Vergeer won more than twice the number of points as Germany’s Australian Open debutante Sabine Ellerbrock as the Dutch world No. 1 recorded match win 443 in her remarkable winning streak after beating Ellerbrock 60 62 in 47 minutes.
World No. 2 Aniek van Koot will be Vergeer’s opponent in a women’s singles final for the third time this year after she reached her first Australian Open final following a 63 64 victory over world No. 4 Marjolein Buis. Both Dutchwomen were responsible for a series of unforced errors throughout the match, but van Koot’s higher tally of winners eventually proved to be decisive.
Top seeds reach doubles finals
The top two seeds will contest the men’s doubles final. After their singles semifinal top seeds Houdet and Peifer teamed up to ease through their doubles semifinal against Japan’s Satoshi Saida and Scheffers 62 61 in 64 minutes. However, second seeds Robin Ammerlaan and Ronald Vink needed just 55 minutes to beat Olsson and Australia’s Ben Weekes 63 62.
Sharon Walraven and Vergeer began their women’s doubles title defence with an emphatic 61 61 win over Ellerbrock and Japan’s Yui Kamiji. With both semifinals going according to the seeding there will be an all-Dutch final after Buis and van Koot also advanced comfortably, beating Daniela di Toro of Australia and Belgium’s Annick Sevenans 62 63