30 Jul 2006

Vergeer Claims Sixth British Open Crown

News Article

World No 1 Esther Vergeer (NED) won her sixth successive Women’s Singles title on Saturday at the 17th British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships in Nottingham, part of the global NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour and the tournament of the year to have Super Series status.

The 25-year-old six-time ITF World champion and double Paralympic champion, who was last beaten at the British Open in the 2000 final, beat compatriot and fourth seed Jiske Griffioen 63 60 in Saturday’s final.

Service breaks in the third and fifth games put Vergeer ahead and despite retrieving one break Griffioen let slip two game points that would have levelled the scores at 4-4. Thereafter it was all one way traffic as Vergeer converted her second set point of the first set and then sped through the second set, converting her first championship point to secure a commanding 63 60 victory.

“The wind was pretty strong and was swirling all ways in the first set and neither of us were able to catch the ball as firmly as we would usually expect to, but Jiske started to hit some great deep backhands and played well,” said Vergeer afterwards. “In the second set the wind was still strong but it was all one direction and I managed to start reading it better, which was a big factor. It’s tremendous to win this tournament for a sixth successive time.”

As well as the Women’s Singles final, Saturday’s play also saw the semi-finals in both the Men’s Main Draw and Second Draw Singles and the Quad Singles.

In the Men’s Main Draw semi-finals both the world’s top two ranked players were beaten as Robin Ammerlaan (NED) defeated World No 1 Michael Jeremiasz (FRA) and Satoshi Saida (JPN) defeated his compatriot and World No 2 Shingo Kunieda.

Third seed Ammerlaan, the 2003 British Open champion, avenged defeat by Jeremiasz in the semi-finals in Nottingham in each of the last two years. The Dutchman took a 52 lead in the first set before taking it 64. However, Jeremiasz won almost all of the big points in the second set, his only momentary weakness being a double fault to hand Ammerlaan the sixth game of the set. The final set was again close, but Ammerlaan just had the edge late on to seal a 64 16 75 victory and prevent Jeremiasz from reaching a third successive British Open final.

The other semi-final was another exciting three set battle, with Saida edging the opening set on a tie-break. However, Kunieda secured a single break to take the second. The deciding set saw World No 4 Saida, the elder of the two Japanese players, take a 31 lead before closing out the match 76(4) 46 62 to reach his first British Open final.

The semi-finals of the Quad Singles saw World No 1 Peter Norfolk (GBR) stay on course for his third British Open Quad title in four years as he defeated World No 3 Nick Taylor (USA) 61 63. Norfolk is also bidding to take his career tally of Super Series titles into double figures and will now face Shraga Weinberg (ISR) in Sunday’s Quad Singles final. In a semi-final on Saturday between two of the tournament’s unseeded players Weinberg fought back strongly from a set down to defeat Sarah Hunter (CAN) 26 60 62.

Saturday’s finals saw Jeremiasz and Martin Legner (AUT) pair up to win the Men’s Main Draw Doubles title. Second seeds Jeremiasz and Legner defeated reigning Paralympic champions and top seeds Kunieda and Saida, who won the Men’s Wheelchair Doubles at Wimbledon on their last visit to Britain just three weeks ago, 64 75.

Sunday’s other finals will include the Women’s Doubles and Quad Doubles. Top seeds Griffioen and Vergeer will take on third seed Maaike Smit (NED) and Mie Yaosa (JAP) in the Women’s Doubles final after Smit and Yaosa upset second seeds Florence Gravellier (FRA) and Sharon Walraven (NED) 63 63 in Saturday’s semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Paralympic champions and top seeds Taylor and David Wagner (USA) will play the unseeded Dutch pairing of Dorrie Timmermans and Bas Van Erp in Sunday’s Quad Singles final after Timmermans and Van Erp defeated Norfolk and Monique De Beer (NED) in three sets in Saturday’s semi-finals.

British Open Results and Order of Play.