A fascinating first day of round-robin pool matches at the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in Mechelen, Belgium saw Britain's Andrew Lapthorne defeat American world No. 1 David Wagner in the quad event and Sharon Walraven cause a minor upset when beating her higher ranked Dutch compatriot Marjolein Buis in the women's event.
Meanwhile, the last two champions in the men's event both had to come from a set down to record opening victories.
David Wagner (USA) v Andrew Lapthorne (GBR)
World No. 4 Lapthorne beat world No. 1 Wagner for the first time in his career as the Briton marked his NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters debut by winning the last five games of the opening set.
Lapthorne established a 3-1 second set lead before Wagner put together a series of three games to briefly lead. However, the momentum swung again in Lapthorne’s favour as he won four of the last five games to seal a 62 75 victory.
Noam Gershony (ISR) v Nick Taylor (USA)
Like Lapthorne, World No. 3 Gershony also produced a winning performance in his first NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters match , dropping just the opening game against world No. 6 Taylor to seal a 61 60 win in just 55 minutes.
MEN – Pool A
Nicolas Peifer (FRA) v Satoshi Saida (JPN)
World No. 5 Nicolas Peifer won the first match of the week in Pool A of the men’s singles, putting together a sequence of five games to win the first set against Japan’s world No. 8 Satoshi Saida.
Saida gained an early break to lead the second set 2-0, but from 3-1 up Saida was unable to win another game as Peifer prevailed 62 63 in an hour and 20 minutes.
Maikel Scheffers (NED) v Robin Ammerlaan (NED)
Six-time NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champion Robin Ammerlaan, the last player to win the title before Stefan Olsson and Maikel Scheffers, began his 2011 campaign in good form, taking a 2-0 lead against world No. 2 Scheffers before top seed Scheffers got back on even terms at 3-3.
Ammerlaan took the last three games of the first set, but 2009 champion Scheffers dominated the early part of the second set to lead 4-0 and 5-1 before taking it 6-3.
Scheffers then completed a sequence of seven games in a row, sealing a 36 63 60 victory after an hour and a half.
MEN – Pool B
Stephane Houdet (FRA) v Ronald Vink (NED)
World No. 3 and second seed Houdet established an early 3-1 lead and secured a double break as he won the last three games of the opening set.
Vink won the opening game of the second set, but lost a break thereafter and trailed by the odd game for the remainder of the set before forcing a tiebreak. The Dutchman went on to edge the second set after gaining an immediate mini-break at the start of the tiebreak, but Houdet built a 3-0 lead in the deciding set and won the last three games to wrap up a 62 67(4) 62 victory in exactly two hours.
Stefan Olsson (SWE) v Frederic Cattaneo (FRA)
Both Pool B matches on the opening day went to a deciding set after world No. 4 Stefan Olsson of Sweden lost the opening set of his NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title defence. However, Olsson soon found his rhythm against world No. 9 Frederic Cattaneo and won the next 12 games with reply to beat the Frenchman 36 60 60.
WOMEN – Pool A
Esther Vergeer (NED) v Sabine Ellerbrock (GER)
World No. 1 Vergeer opened her bid for her 14th NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters title with a 61 61 victory over Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock.
Ellerbrock, playing in her first NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters after seeing her world ranking improve from No. 14 to No. 6 since the start of the season, won the first game of the match and had several game points afterwards.
However, after dropping just the third game of the second set Vergeer’s ability to play the important points well again made the vital difference and she wrapped up the win in 54 minutes.
Aniek van Koot (NED) v Annick Sevenans (BEL)
World No. 3 van Koot gained an immediate break against the local Belgian favourite and world No. 8, an advantage that the Dutch player maintained to claim the opening set. The two players exchanged breaks throughout the second set, with no more than one game separating them at any one time, but when they entered a tiebreak van Koot gained the first significant breakthrough, putting together a sequence of five successive points to lead 6-2 before finally sealing a hard won 64 76(4) victory,
WOMEN – Pool B
Marjolein Buis (NED) v Sharon Walraven (NED)
The pick of the women’s matches on the first day of play saw Buis take a 4-2 first set lead, but world No. 7 Walraven subsequently recovered from 5-3 down to force a tiebreak. Walraven, the more experience of the two Duthwomen, won the first two points of the tiebreak, but Buis dug deep to level the score and had set points at 6-5 and 7-6 up. However, the world No. 4 was not to win another point in the opening set as Walraven threatened a minor upset.
Buis again went a break up at 4-2 in the second set, but again Walraven came back to force another tiebreak. This time Buis dominated the tiebreak to force a third and deciding set, but the momentum was all with Walraven in the final set as she opened up a 5-0 lead en route to recording a 76(7) 67(2) 61 victory.
Jiske Griffioen (NED) v Daniela di Toro (AUS)
Di Toro won just the second game of the opening set against world No. 2 Griffioen, but the Australian former world No. 1 looked like she might force a deciding set as she went 3-0 up in the second set.
However, Griffioen forced a change of momentum, sweeping through the next six games to earn a 63 61 victory.