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Wheelchair wrap: Davidson, Alcott among doubles champs

  • Matt Trollope

Alcott and Davidson among AO wheelchair doubles champions

Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson won their fourth straight AO quad doubles title with a thrilling victory in Tuesday’s final.

The Australian duo, gold medallists at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, held off Brit Andy Lapthorne and American David Wagner 6-2 3-6 [10-7] to win their fourth title from five finals together at Melbourne Park.

Alcott and Davidson were not the only compatriots joining forces to hoist the silverware; British pair Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid combined to win the men’s wheelchair doubles crown while Dutchwomen Diede De Groot and Aniek Van Koot won their second AO title in the past three years.

All three winning pairs were the No.1 seeds in their respective events.

Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson with their trophy

In another tense battle between Alcott/Davidson and Lapthorne/Wagner, Davidson said some words of encouragement from his illustrious teammate helped him refocus for the match-tiebreak.

“I felt like we both started really strong. Dylan kept his level up. I have no idea what happened to me in the start of the second set. I just decided to really freak out, not play tennis very well,” he reflected.
“Big props to Dyl for giving me a little bit of a pep talk and getting in my ear and getting me back on track for the match tie.

“Those boys played pretty well, picked up their level. I think that's the third doubles final in a row that's gone to a match tiebreaker against those two.”

World No.1 Alcott, who is also through to the quad singles final, revealed his gratitude for the opportunity to compete for titles at a challenging time for both people in Australia, and around the world.

“I get to play tennis with one of my best mates. Not many people can say that,” Alcott said. “(It’s the) 20th anniversary of us meeting this year.

“I have four Australian Open titles. Pretty awesome. Very proud of Heath, where he's come from.

“To be able to do it at a time when not everybody is getting to do their jobs and things, we feel pretty lucky.”

It was a similar sentiment for Hewett and Reid, who defended their Australian Open doubles title for their 10th Grand Slam doubles title as a duo.

The Brits led by a set and a break before French combination Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer worked their way back into the match.

But in a composed tiebreak, Hewett and Reid completed a 7-5 7-6(3) victory in just over two hours. 

“To be competing right now is an absolute honor,” Reid said. “To get to a final and bring home the trophy for the second year in a row is something we're both really proud of.”

Added Hewett: “To get it back-to-back, it's an awesome feeling, especially with the situation at the moment, not knowing how many opportunities we're going to have to compete this year.”

F_Van Koot-De Groot_trophy-Day 9_16022021_02
Diede De Groot and Aniek Van Koot claimed their second AO in three years

De Groot and Van Koot clashed in the first round of the singles event, with De Groot winning that match before progressing to the final, where she will face Yui Kamiji.

But now on the same side of the net, they were able to resume their formidable partnership, winning their seventh major doubles trophy overall.

“I think what really helps is that we're from the same country and we can train together,” De Groot said, after she and Van Koot brushed aside the British-South African combination of Lucy Shuker and Kgothatso Montjane.

“We started playing with each other for the games, really to practice, to see if we could be a good doubles pairing. I think from that we just built and built.

“Now we're to a level where we can win Grand Slams together.”

After breaking in the very first game of the match, De Groot and Van Koot survived a fightback from Shuker and Montjane, but broke serve once more late in the set and stormed through the second to win 6-4 6-1.

“it's a good combination. It's fun. We keep learning, as well,” Van Koot explained.

“I think every time we try to set the standard a bit higher than the previous one.”