Olsson and Gerard: men’s wheelchair doubles champions

  • Dan Imhoff

Joachim Gerard has recaptured the Australian Open men’s wheelchair doubles title – this time with Swede Stefan Olsson – defeating the French-Australian pair of Stefane Houdet and Ben Weekes on Friday.

Houdet won the title last year with compatriot Nicolas Peifer, but fell short of triumphing in doubles at Melbourne Park for a sixth time with new partner, Weekes.

Gerard and Olsson prevailed 6-3 6-2.

It was Gerard’s second Australian Open doubles triumph after winning with Briton Gordon Reid two years ago.

Gerard and Olsson were in control from the outset

The Belgian missed last year’s event but returned to help Olsson to his first title at Melbourne Park.

“The last two years we started really playing together and the plan was to do the best that we can do and I think we’re not far from it,” Gerard said.

The pair first made their debut as a team in Rotterdam in 2013 and decided to play together more regularly about two years ago.

They had no qualms admitting how they came about teaming up again.

“Because he was the only one,” Gerard laughed. “That’s not far, that’s not far. That’s true.”

As the pair found, much of the decision came down to others’ allegiances to their compatriots.

“It was a little bit like that actually,” the Swede said. “Because you always have the French, they’re playing together, and then you have the British and then you think …”

“Which player is good for my game? And we were really good friends,” Gerard finished. “When we’re both at the best level you can do I think we are unbeatable.”

The 48-year-old Houdet was broken in his opening service game and staring down a 6-0 opening set before the Frenchman finally got the unseeded duo on the board with a love hold.

Olsson served for the opening set at 5-1 but Houdet brought up break points with a savage angled crosscourt backhand winner.

They kept the first set alive, but Weekes was quickly under the pump, forced to stave off three set points on serve before Gerard served out the opening set on back-to-back lob winners.

Weekes’ serve was again under pressure early in the second set as he was broken after pushing a backhand long and the No.2 seeds raced to a 5-1 lead on a double break.

When we’re both at the best level you can do I think we are unbeatable
Joachim Gerard

While the Swede, Olsson, had failed to serve out the first set he made no mistake of it second time round, serving out the championship when Gerard plucked a low backhand volley winner.

Further grand slam doubles glory was now firmly in sights for the remainder of 2019.

“Definitely,” Olsson said. “We want to do as good as we can in every major and we want to enjoy the win at any major, but it’s tough. We have to beat some of the best pairs out there but if we play our best there’s a really great possibility we can do it.”