08 Jun 2007

Vergeer overcomes gallant Gravellier in Paris


NEWS ARTICLE

Shingo Kunieda (JPN) and Esther Vergeer (NED) secured the inaugural Roland Garros Masters Series wheelchair tennis titles on Friday in Paris, but the talking point of the day was Vergeer's Women's Singles final against home favourite Florence Gravellier (FRA), in which the Dutchwoman lost her only her third set of competitive tennis since the beginning of August 2004.

World No 1 Vergeer, who started the tournament on Tuesday with a 60 60 win over Karin Suter-Erath (SUI) to secure her 250th successive singles win in NEC Tour competition, dominated the start of her semi-final against Gravellier, winning 12 of the first 14 points to take a 30 lead. However, Gravellier started to get into her rhythm in the fourth game, earning three game points against the Vergeer serve and converting the third of them to get herself on the scoreboard.

Gravellier then produced a dominant service game to reduce the deficit to 32, but failed to convert game points in each of the next two games and Vergeer capitalised to extend to a 52 lead. Although Gravellier stemmed the flow with Vergeer serving for the set, in the very next game Vergeer needed just one set point on the Frenchwoman's serve to seize the initiative.

After the first three games of the second set went against serve, Gravellier finally held her own serve on the third of three game points to take a 31 lead and she maintained the gap to go 42 up. However, Vergeer responded with two dominant games to level at 44 before Gravellier once more broke the Dutch World No 1's serve to inch ahead again. Two games later Gravellier then broke Vergeer's service to love and when serving for the set for a second time she converted the second of two set points.

Vergeer has now lost just three sets of competitive tennis since her last match loss against Daniela di Toro (AUS) at the end of January 2003 and two of those sets that she has dropped since then have been won by Gravellier, both on clay.

Gravellier had previously taken the middle set of her match against Vergeer at the Swiss Open in August 2004, while Korie Homan (NED) won the first set of her quarter-final against Vergeer at the 2006 US Open.

After Gravellier had taken the second set off Vergeer 61 at the 2004 Swiss Open, Vergeer responded by powering through the deciding set without dropping another game, but in front of Gravellier's home French crowd on Friday things were not quite so easy. Gravellier won the opening game of the final set, but with the first three games of the decider all closely contested, Vergeer then began a run of four games to break clear. Gravellier briefly responded in another close sixth game, but two games later on the Frenchwoman's serve Vergeer created three straight match points and just needed the first of them to wrap up a 63 57 62 victory.

The Men's Singles final was another high-quality contest, with World No 1 Kunieda coming from 0-30 down in the opening game against World No 2 Robin Ammerlaan to hold serve. The Japanese star then broke Ammerlaan for the second time in the eighth game and held his own serve one more time to wrap up the first set.

In the second set Kunieda missed a game point oppotunity to move 52 ahead after seven games and Ammerlaan responded by levelling the set at 44. However, two games later Kunieda consolidated another service break on the second of three match points to seal victory 63 64 in three minutes over the hour mark.

Friday's penultimate final of the day was the Men's Doubles and after Graveller's determined performance in the Women's Singles final the French crowd finally had not one, but two home winners to cheer as second seeds Michael Jeremiasz and Stephane Houdet outplayed top seeds and reigning Paralympic champions Kunieda and Satoshi Saida to clinch a 76(4) 61 victory.

In the Women's Doubles final top seeds and two-time Paralympic champons Vergeer and Maaike Smit (NED) eased to another major title with a 61 64 victory over second seeds Gravellier and Mie Yaosa (JPN), having seen Gravellier and Yaosa recover from 14 down in the second set to level at 44.

Men's Singles Draw

Women's Singles Draw

Men's Doubles Draw

Women's Doubles Draw



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