Alcott and Davidson do the double

  • Michael Beattie

Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson successfully defended their Australian Open quad doubles title under the roof on Margaret Court Arena, saving a championship point before fending off a spirited fightback from Andy Lapthorne and David Wagner to win 6-3 6-7(6) 12-10.

The Australian duo did the double over their British and American opponents on Thursday at Melbourne Park, having won their singles showdowns earlier in the day before pairing up to collect their second consecutive Australian Open title.

“We pride ourselves on playing till the last point,” said Alcott, who had battled back to beat Wagner 6-7(3) 6-4 7-5 in two hours, 16 minutes prior to the doubles final. Davidson had an easier time against Lapthorne, downing the Briton 6-1 6-1 in 70 minutes.

“I pride myself on being level-headed the whole time,” Alcott continued. “I think that really helped us. I was really proud how Heath did as well in the singles and the doubles. I think we both played incredibly well. We try to play like you can't tell the score, know what I mean?

“One thing that really helped us is a massive crowd at both our matches, the singles and the doubles. A few years ago, we were used to playing in front of a handful of people. After the Paralympics and the Newcombe medal, people come down and watch now. It's awesome, so cool.”

The match took place on a sweltering day at Melbourne Park, prompting organisers to close the roof on Margaret Court Arena in line with the Extreme Heat Policy. Even so, conditions were muggy throughout the match, which featured a raft of 20-shot rallies and beyond, with the Lapthorne and Wagner duo coming out on top of a 32-shot exchange early in the second set.

That marathon effort helped the British-American tandem clinch a 2-0 lead in the second set, having lost the opener despite an early 3-1 lead. 

Lapthorne was a livewire in the second, flitting around the court to back up Wagner’s smart angles at net when the 2017 champions were in the ascendency. But the star of the show was Davidson, whose defensive lobs and court coverage kept the Aussies in a string of rallies for Alcott to apply the finishing touch. 

“I was feeling good – I was confident in myself,” Davidson said.

“I wasn't confident in Dylan,” he added at his good mate’s expense.

“No, my job is to set Dylan up. Dylan knows what he has to do when he goes in. I trust him 100 per cent.”

Great mates Davidson and Alcott took home the silverware for the second year running

Both Alcott and Davidson had the chance to serve out the win, Alcott broken at 5-4 in the second set and Davidson at 6-5. But having recovered for 4-6 down in the tiebreak, Lapthorne sent the match into a deciding 10-point tiebreak.

With the match closing in on the two-hour mark the intensity only picked up, Lapthorne and Davidson battling to keep the points alive as their partners went in search of winners. Alcott looked stunned to have netted a high backhand volley with the court at his mercy as the Aussies slipped 5-2 behind, but from there they surged back to bring up their first championship point at 9-8.

Wagner and Lapthorne rallied to stay in the match when Alcott netted his return, and brought up a championship point of their own moments later. But the Aussies were not to be denied, rattling through the next three points as Alcott finished the job with a fading volley.

One thing that really helped us is a massive crowd at both our matches, the singles and the doubles. A few years ago, we were used to playing in front of a handful of people
Dylan Alcott

“Tonight was amazing,” said Davidson, who warned Alcott that he intended to deny the world No.1 a fifth consecutive singles title on Saturday. “And the crowd for my singles this morning was unreal, too.”

“We used to know everyone in the crowd,” Alcott added. “Now we know 5 per cent or 10 per cent in the crowd. The rest of them are random that want to come down and support. It's special to be involved in.

“Hopefully for the next generation of kids with disabilities or athletes, it's a bit easier. We had to fight tooth and nail, we had to travel an hour and 20 minutes to have a hit of tennis with a coach. There was nothing when we did it. Hopefully for that NextGen, it's a little easier, you know what I mean?”