Hewett beats Kunieda to set up Paris rematch with Gerard | ITF

Hewett beats Kunieda to set up Paris rematch with Gerard

Michael Beattie

15 Feb 2021

Alfie Hewett booked his place in the finals of both the men’s wheelchair singles and doubles events at the Australian Open, twice getting the better of world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

The reigning Roland Garros champion will face Belgium’s Joachim Gerard, the man he beat in last year’s final in Paris, for the chance to win his first Australian Open singles title – and fifth major – after beating the 10-time champion 6-3 6-4.

“I played some of my best tennis,” said Hewett, who had lost to Kunieda in Melbourne in both 2019 and 2020 and last week’s Victorian Wheelchair Open final. “He's kind of had me the last few years that I've been here, and to finally get a victory over him is something that I was really, really happy about.

“I think the last couple of matches I've played have been a little bit passive, which isn't really like me, so I tried to just go out there and dominate and put my game on to him and thankfully today it worked.”

Gerard prevented the final being an all-British affair with a comeback victory over Gordon Reid, 4-6 7-5 6-3. The Belgian has now reached back-to-back Grand Slam singles finals for the first time as he seeks his first major victory, five years after first reaching a Grand Slam title match at Melbourne Park.

“Gordon was playing good, but I could finally play my tennis from 3-0 [down] in the second set,” said Gerard, who lost to Reid in that 2016 final. “Something happened in my head, and I knew what I had to do. My serve was more powerful, and I think that helped today.”

Having successfully avenged his loss to Reid in Melbourne in 2020, Gerard is now hoping to settle a score with Hewett following defeat at Roland Garros, where he lost a dramatic final from 3-1 up in the third set.

“I just want to play my best, to go out on court and say I gave everything,” said the 32-year-old. “For sure, I want the title more than anyone here, and I will fight from the first to the last point and want to leave the court with no regrets.”

Defending doubles champions Hewett and Reid returned to court to clinch their place in the men's final with a 6-1 4-6 [10-7] victory over Kunieda and Gustavo Fernandez. The Britons will face French second seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer, who beat Gerard and Ben Weekes 6-4 6-2.

In the women’s singles, defending champion Yui Kamiji surged back in the final set to see her way past South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane 6-1 5-7 6-0, setting up a showdown with world No. 1 Diede De Groot, who denied Roland Garros finalist Momoko Ohtani the chance to set up a second successive all-Japanese major final with a 6-2 6-4 victory in other semi-final.

De Groot and Aniek Van Koot booked their spot in the women’s doubles final with a 7-6(9) 6-4 win over Kamiji and Ohtani, and will face Montjane and Lucy Shuker after the second seeds defeated Angelica Bernal and Macarena Cabrillana 6-1 6-4.

US Open quad singles champion Sam Schroder is through to the Australian Open final after beating Andy Lapthorne 6-2 6-3 in the semi-finals, setting up a repeat of his New York showdown with Dylan Alcott, who beat Dutch debutant Niels Vink 6-4 6-3.

Alcott and Heath Davidson booked their spot in the doubles final with a 6-3 7-6(4) win over Schroder and Vink, where they will face Lapthorne and David Wagner, 6-1 6-4 victors over Koji Sugeno and Nick Taylor.

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