26 Jul 2008

Vergeer lifts eighth British Open title


NEWS ARTICLE

World No 1 Esther Vergeer (NED) beat her compatriot and world No 2 Korie Homan for the second successive year on Saturday at the City of Nottingham Tennis Centre, to clinch her eighth Women’s Singles title at the 19th British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships, part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour.

Meanwhile, French duo Stephane Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz produced a superb display of doubles tennis to win the Men’s Main Draw Doubles title and American top seeds Nick Taylor and David Wagner won an entertaining three set contest against British second seeds Jamie Burdekin and Peter Norfolk to retain their Quad Doubles title.

Twenty seven-year-old Vergeer, who was last beaten in the British Open in the 2000 final, produced a dominant performance to seal a 62 62 victory that extends her incredible unbeaten sequence in international singles competition to 340 matches.

Although Homan came in to Saturday’s final as the player to have had most success against Vergeer in the past two seasons, having taken a first set lead against Vergeer on three previous occasions, she was never able to stay on terms with the top seed after missing the opportunity to take a 3-1 lead. From 2-2 Vergeer’s power and consistency proved too much and she reeled off the next four games to take the first set.

Homan began the second set with a double fault and Vergeer sealed an immediate break to go 2-0 up. Thereafter, the third and fifth games of the set were Homan’s only successes and she also missed game point opportunities in the seventh game that would have left her just one game adrift at 4-3. However, Vergeer took the game and then served out on her first championship point to maintain her eight-year dominance of the ITF Super Series event.

Sunday’s Men’s Main Draw Singles final will be between the world’s top two Men’s players, Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Robin Ammerlaan (NED). In Saturday’s Men’s semi-finals, defending champion Kunieda broke French world No 3 Stephane Houdet in the sixth game of the opening set to take a 4-2 lead and then had two set points on his own serve in the ninth game. Although Houdet hit a cross court forehand winner to save the first set points, Kunieda converted the second to firmly seize the initiative.

The second set followed a similar pattern as Kunieda again broke Houdet to lead 4-2, while Houdet was unable to convert two break back point opportunities that would have levelled the set at 5-5. Instead, world No 1 Kunieda went on to serve for the match, hitting the ball wide on his first match point, but then watched Houdet hit it long on the second match point to seal a 63 64 victory.

In the other semi-final, world No 2 Ammerlaan secured two early breaks to go 5-1 up against world No 6 Tadeusz Kruszelnicki (POL). Kruszelnicki rallied to take the next three games, but Ammerlaan finally got back on top to snatch the first set.

Ammerlaan broke Kruszelnicki to lead 5-2 in the second set and then had his first match point, but a determined effort from the Pole saw him save the match point and go on to pull one game back. However, a delightful backhand slice brought Ammerlaan two more match points in the next game. Kruszelnicki saved the second match point against him with a forehand winner, but in the next point he knocked the ball into the net when returning Ammerlaan’s third successive backhand. After his 6-4, 6-3 victory Ammerlaan now has the opportunity of playing for his third British Open title, having previously been the victor in Nottingham in 2003 and 2006.

The Quad Singles final will also be between the world’s top two, with Norfolk taking on world No 1 ranked Quad Wagner. World No 2 Norfolk put up a great performance to beat former world No 1 Shraga Weinberg of Israel 6-1, 6-3 in his semi-final on Saturday. Norfolk dropped just the sixth game of the first set and then went 3-0 up in the second set, but the Briton slightly lost his focus to allow Weinberg to move to within a game of him at 4-3. However, Norfolk regained his composure to play two solid games to close out victory and earn the opportunity of adding to his 2003, 3005 and 2006 British Open titles. Defending champion Wagner was in even more dominant form in the other semi-final, beating his compatriot and world No 3 Taylor 61 60.

French second seeds Houdet and Michael Jeremiasz upset Japanese top seeds Kunieda and Satoshi Saida in the Men’s Main Draw Doubles final. Houdet and Jeremiasz steamed to the first set 6-0, but after Kunieda took a comfort break the Japanese pairing got in to the match at the start of the second set. However, a Saida mishit went flying out of court in the sixth game to give Houdet and Jeremiasz a one break cushion at 4-2 and the margin increased to 5-2 in the next game when Kunieda’s attempt at a drop shot just caught the top of the net. At 5-3 Houdet produced an ace to bring up two match points, with Saida sending a forehand long over the French pairing's baseline to wrap up a 60 63 victory for Houdet and Jeremiasz.

The Quad Doubles final saw Taylor and Wagner string six successive games together to take the first set 62, but Burdekin and Norfolk came from 5-3 down in the second set to take it 75. After the players took a comfort break, the resumption saw defending champions Taylor and Wagner race to a 5-0 lead in the deciding set and Wagner wrapped up a successful title defence with an ace, sealing a 62 57 61 victory.

Sunday’s Women’s Doubles final will be an all Dutch contest between defending champions Jiske Griffioen and Vergeer and second seeds Homan and Sharon Walraven.

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