Photo: Tommy HindleyEsther Vergeer (NED)
Top seeds Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands and Peter Norfolk of Great Britain won the women’s and quad singles titles on the penultimate day of the Eton Manor Wheelchair Tennis International, a part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and the ‘London Prepares’ series, while Robin Ammerlaan and David Phillipson set up a Dutch-British men’s singles final at the test event for the London 2012 Paralympics in Olympic Park.
World No. 1 Vergeer had never lost more than three games in her previous five head-to-heads against Britain’s Jordanne Whiley, but in bitterly cold conditions on Centre Court Whiley came from 3-1 down in the first set to level the match at 4-4 as Vergeer double faulted on game point in the eighth game. The next three games saw both players race to 0-40 leads on their opponent’s service as they exchanged breaks, while Vergeer subsequently secured a vital hold to snatch the set.
Whiley clinched the opening game of the second set, but thereafter three-time Paralympic women's singles champion Vergeer had much the better of the remaining exchanges and finally wrapped up a 75 61 victory.
“It’s very nice to win the title, but it was also very important for me to come here and get to know the tennis centre. I like to know where I am coming and wanted the chance to find my way around, to get used to the courts, the atmosphere, the bounce and the feeling of playing on Centre Court here,” said Vergeer, who extender her winning streak to 454 matches. “It may not be so important to other players, but it is important for me to come here in September and know where everything is so I can then just concentrate on the tennis.
“Jordanne played a good game today. Because the courts are so big that played into her hands, as she is very fast and could play from the Baseline a lot. Because of the rain I did not have my usual warm-up routine and had to change a few things during the match, like creating more angles,” added Vergeer.
Norfolk battles back to edge out Hard
A day after beating world No. 4 and second seed Andrew Lapthorne, Sweden’s world No. 7 Anders Hard looked set to produce an even bigger upset when he took the first set of the quad singles final against top seed Peter Norfolk. However, world No. 2 Norfolk had moved a break ahead at 3-1 in the second set before the light rain that had been blowing in the wind became heavier and play was suspended.
On the resumption Hard hit double faults on the first two points in the fifth game of the set, but still went on to break back and forced a tiebreak. Norfolk gained the first breakthrough of the tiebreak to lead 3-1 and 4-2, only for Hard to level at 4-4, but the Briton earned two set points at 5-4 up and only needed the first as he put away a cross court forehand winner to send the match into a deciding set.
Hard held a narrow 2-1 lead in the final set, but Norfolk held serve in the fifth game to snatch the advantage and at 6-5 up he eventually sealed a 26 76(4) 75 victory when Hard hit a forehand into the base of the net.
“I really struggled,” admitted Norfolk. Anders played a smart match. I played well yesterday (in the semifinals against Jamie Burdekin) and I guess today was just one of those days. I never got my rhythm. I just wanted to get the ball in and let him make the mistakes.
“I was dubious whether to come and play this tournament, but it was been a useful experience.
Later in the day Norfolk added a second title when he partnered fellow Brit Andew Lapthorne to win the quad doubles. Lapthorne and Norfolk dropped just the sixth game of the first set against Hard and his compatriot Marcus Jonsson, but the Swedish duo made a much brighter start to the second set, leading 2-0. But Lapthorne and Norfolk fought back and turned a 2-3 deficit into a 5-3 lead en route to clinching a 61 64 victory after 65 minutes.
Ammerlaan and Phillipson into men’s singles final
The men’s events produced two of the matches of the day as British top seeds McCarroll and Gordon Reid gained an immediate break in the men’s doubles final against Robin Ammerlaan of the Netherlands and Britain’s Kevin Simpson. Ammerlaan and Simpson retrieved a service break to reduce their deficit to 5-4, but McCarroll and Reid’s experience as doubles partners eventually paid off as they edged the set.
However, an even closer second set was in store as Ammerlaan and Simpson threatened to force a decider when they led 5-3. However they couldn’t win the points that really mattered and McCarroll and Reid took the set into a tiebreak before eventually securing a tense 64 76(5) victory.
The day’s action on Centre Court opened with the men’s singles semifinal between Ammerlaan and McCarroll, which proved to be an enthralling contest that the Dutch former world No.1 and Athens 2004 Paralympic champion clinched 63 75.
However, there was even greater drama on Court 1in the other semifinal as fourth seed David Phillipson recovered from a set down to win ten off the last 11 games against second seed Gordon Reid to complete a 36 62 61 victory.
Phillipson will now meet Ammerlaan in the last remaining final of the tournament on Sunday morning.