Australia’s Dylan Alcott capped off a remarkable year with a victory in the US Open quad wheelchair singles final – a triumph that sees him become the first male player in history to achieve the Golden Grand Slam.
Alcott’s 7-5 6-2 win over Dutch teenager Niels Vink at Louis Armstrong Stadium followed on from his Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon wins earlier in 2021, as well as his gold medal-winning run at the Tokyo Paralympics.
At the same time at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Alcott's fellow Australian Sam Stosur and Chinese partner Zhang Shuai combined for their second Grand Slam women’s doubles title together after beating American teenagers Coco Gauff and Caty McNally.
In a US Open fortnight where history was continually made, women’s wheelchair world No.1 Diede de Groot also completed a Golden Grand Slam thanks to her 6-3 6-2 triumph over Yui Kamiji.
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De Groot and Alcott joined US Open men’s wheelchair doubles champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid as players to win all four Grand Slam titles in 2021.
The four stars were warmly received at Arthur Ashe Stadium when they later attended the men’s singles final between Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic.
.@DylanAlcott chugging a beer out of his #USOpen trophy is an absolute MOOD 😂 pic.twitter.com/YCFJr4GTTj— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 12, 2021
Alcott achieves Holy Grail
World No.1 Alcott had come within one match of completing the Grand Slam in 2019 but admitted the occasion overwhelmed him as he lost the US Open final to Andy Lapthorne.
He also fell in last year’s final to Sam Schroder before finally earning the big prize on Sunday – which took on extra significance given the major titles and Paralympic gold that preceded it in 2021.
“I just won the Golden Slam. Can you believe that? I can't believe that,” said Alcott, who now owns 15 major singles titles, three of which have come in New York.
“I think I'm the first male in any form of tennis to win the Golden Slam, which is just unbelievable. I mean, I'm going to cry.
Wow - Golden Slam officially complete.— Dylan Alcott (@DylanAlcott) September 12, 2021
I cannot believe it. We did it. We actually did it! pic.twitter.com/pncMvs8tgc
“Everybody in this (press) room asked me: 'Are you thinking about the Golden Slam?' I've said: 'No, I don't really care about it,' all year.
“Of course I cared about it. It's nice not to pretend any more.”
Alcott was wary of the threat Vink posed, given the 18-year-old had extended him to three gruelling sets in the Paralympic semifinals just two weeks earlier.
But the in-form Alcott prevailed to improve his win-loss record this season to a near-flawless 21-1.
And after an emotional on-court speech, he spoke of how uplifting it was to be involved in the sport at this particular time, having emulated De Groot’s achievement at Louis Armstrong stadium.
“What a legend Diede is. I was the second person to win a Golden Slam today, the third person ever by an hour. It's crazy, yeah? Compared to Steffi Graf,” the 30-year-old said.
“The sport is in such a good spot. The reason Diede and I are going so well is because of the next generation of athletes. She's the next generation. Niels is the next generation, pushing me.
“I don't think I'm going to be back here at all.”
De Groot continues to dominate
Top seed De Groot won her fourth consecutive US Open and 12th major singles title overall thanks to her win over Kamiji.
But it was the Golden Slam that brought the 24-year-old the most intense feelings of both joy and relief.
“For me the pressure was on. I definitely felt it. I think for me the best part was just to take it,” De Groot said.
“I think everyone could see there was pressure to get that Golden Slam. So happy to have it.
“I just can't wait to go home, celebrate it with my family, friends, everyone that has supported me in the past few weeks.”
The men’s singles title was won by No.1 seed Shingo Kunieda, who defeated Hewett 6-1 6-4 to both defend his title as well as back up his recent Tokyo Paralympics gold medal win.
“Today's performance was my best including Paralympics,” said the 37-year-old, unbeaten in his past eight matches.
“Even I was very tired, but I could play my best. I'm proud about it."
Doubles: Stosur and Zhang complete dream summer
Meanwhile, Stosur and Zhang's triumph over Gauff and McNally followed on from their first Grand Slam doubles title together at Australian Open 2019.
The result also extended their winning streak to 11, after the Australian-Chinese duo also won in Cincinnati.
The 6-3 3-6 6-3 win on Ashe delivered Stosur a fourth major women’s doubles title and second at the US Open – an incredible 16 years after she won her first with Lisa Raymond.
Sunday’s win also came on the 10th anniversary of Stosur’s US Open singles title.
“It's just a phenomenal feeling to have this trophy again 16 years later. Winning the singles here, I've got so many amazing memories here playing in New York,” Stosur said.
“It's brought out some of my best tennis in my career.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but Sam you were my first autograph.”— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) September 12, 2021
- @CocoGauff on court, congratulating @bambamsam30.#USOpen
“This is the last two days of a trip that's going to be four months for me away from home. I haven't done that for a long time. To be going home with this trophy just means the absolute world to me. It makes everything worth it.
“I'm so proud to have Shuai as my partner. We certainly bring out the best of each other on and off the court.
“It's a really special title for both of us.”