Aussie opponents await Australian Open champs Alcott and Kunieda | ITF

Aussie opponents await Australian Open champs Alcott and Kunieda

Marshall Thomas

12 Feb 2021

There are some familiar match-ups for Sunday’s men, women’s and quad singles quarterfinals at the Australian Wheelchair Open, none more so than for home fans after Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson were drawn to meet each other in the opening round of an historic quad singles draw.

“Oh, no way, I’m playing Heath again,” was Alcott’s reaction on Margaret Court Arena as the 24 wheelchair players gathered for the draw ceremony at the first Grand Slam of the year.

View the 2021 Australian Open Wheelchair Tennis draws in full here

Gone are the days of a four-way round-robin draw for the quad division players, with the Australian Open announcing in December that it would become the first of the majors to feature an expanded quad draw of eight players. 

However, such is the random nature of the draw that it might as well have been a rotation of  a round-robin draw for Alcott, Davidson, Andy Lapthorne and David Wagner, the four players who have contested the quad singles at the last four Australian Opens. The only difference in 2021 being that they occupy the top and the bottom quarters of the draw, with former champion Wagner facing Lapthorne for a place in the semi-finals.

US Open champion Sam Schroder and Grand Slam debutant and fellow Dutchmen Niels Vink have both amply demonstrated that they are both capable of being be live contenders for the title at Melbourne Park. They face Koji Sugeno and Nick Taylor respectively in the remaining two quarter-finals in opposite halves of the draw.

More accustomed to meeting in the semi-finals or finals of a Grand Slam, Diede De Groot and Aniek Van Koot will go head-to-head at the top of the women’s singles draw, just days after De Groot came from behind to complete a semi-final victory over Van Koot at the Melbourne Open.

Meanwhile, Melbourne Open champion Yui Kamiji begins her Australian Open women’s singles title defence against Grand Slam debutante Macarena Cabrillana and the possibility remains of a repeat of the historic all-Japanese Roland Garros final between Kamiji and Momoko Ohtani

Ohtani is in the top half of the draw in Melbourne and meets Britain’s Lucy Shuker in her opening match, which means that Angelica Bernal and Kgothatso Montjane go head to-head for the other semi-final berth.

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Quarter-final opponents in 2020, Gustavo Fernandez and Gordon Reid meet again in the opening round of the men’s singles at Melbourne Park this year.

It is five years since Reid won his maiden Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open, while it is four years since current world No.2 Fernandez won the first of his two titles at Melbourne Park before regaining the title in 2019. 

A year on from claiming his tenth Australian Open men’s singles title, world No.1 Shingo Kunieda faces Ben Weekes in his opening match this year as Weekes returns to Melbourne Park carrying Australian hopes as the wild card entry once again.

Meanwhile, 2016 finalist Joachim Gerard plays Stephane Houdet for a place in the semi-finals, the Belgian looking for back-to-back titles after his victory at the Melbourne Open earlier this week, and Alfie Hewett takes on Nicolas Peifer for the chance to face Kunieda or Weekes for a place in the final.