Wheelchair wrap: Reid one step away from silverware

  • Alex Sharp

Australian Open 2016 champion Gordon Reid has returned to the silverware showdown of the men’s wheelchair singles with a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 triumph over world No.7 Joachim Gerard

The Brit, backing up his victory over 2019 winner Gustavo Fernandez, led 5-1 in the second set before Gerard roared back into contention. 

MORE: All the results from Day 11 in Melbourne 

Reid eventually prevailed and will take on nine-time champion Shingo Kunieda for the trophy after the top seed dispatched Alfie Hewett in straight sets. 

“For me Shingo is the best player who has played across the men’s division in wheelchair tennis,” said the Scot. 

“You always expect it to be a tough match, he’s in good form right now. I think I have the tools to cause him problems. If I go out with the same mentality I’ve had this week then I could get over the line. 

“Obviously I’m really pleased to get through to two finals here, it’s a great feeling. 

“I played my first Grand Slam final here, won my first title here in singles, so I’m really excited to be in another final on Saturday,” added Reid, who joined Hewett in defeating Fernandez/Kunieda to reach the men’s doubles final in the last match on Thursday night. 

The Scot is optimistic about his chances against Kunieda in the final

Reid, ousting Gerard in a repeat of that 2016 singles final at Melbourne Park, is trying to channel memories from that stellar season of his career, which also included Paralympic gold and a Wimbledon title. 

“2016 was my best year. I felt I dipped from that for a bit, away from what defines me as a player, which is creativity, having variety. I feel like I tried to be too predictable and almost simulate the other players,” reflected the 28-year-old. 

“I feel like when I showcase my personality on the court, with my style, that’s when I make it difficult for my opponents. I’ve found that here again, and long may that continue.” 

Reid and Gerard combined for doubles glory Down Under in 2017, and Reid would relish the chance to take two trophies home this time round. 

“It would be massive for me. I made the Roland Garros final last year, my first since 2016 in singles, so I would love to get my hands on the trophy in singles,” added Reid. 

“I’ve never won the doubles here with Alfie before. We’ve collected a lot of trophies, just not this one. That would mean a lot to us. We’ll do everything we can to make that happen.” 

Zhenzhen Zhu’s debut in the women’s wheelchair singles was halted in a turbulent battle with Aniek Van Koot.

The Chinese shocked world No.1 Diede de Groot in the opening round, but Van Koot gained revenge for her doubles partner to post 1-6 6-0 6-4 on the scoreboard. 

Van Koot, the 2013 champion, must navigate past second seed Yui Kamiji to clinch a fourth singles major, whilst the Japanese will vie for her seventh Grand Slam singles trophy. 

Australian duo Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson retained their men’s quad doubles title with a commanding 6-4 6-3 victory against the combination of Andy Lapthorne and David Wagner

The home charges backed up 2018 and 2019 final trophy lifts facing the same opponents to cue raucous celebrations. 

Davidson and Alcott repeated as champions

“Yeah that’s three in a row for us,” said Davidson, before paying tribute to their support team. “Thanks to our coaches, for all the hard work and dealing with me and Dylan, the diva he is. Also most importantly thanks to this bloke (Alcott), he’s been carrying me for years.” 

It was Alcott’s turn to take the mic. “Thanks Laps and Wags for another great match,” added the defending quad singles champion, who secured his second round robin victory from two with a 7-5 6-1 scoreline facing Lapthorne earlier on Thursday. 

“Shout out to Heath, really proud of the way you played today and I love sharing the court with one of my best mates, thank you brother. 

“Thanks everyone who has come down to watch, embracing wheelchair tennis,” added Alcott on MCA. 

“I know there is a product that people have wanted to watch for years. The Australian Open, Channel 9, the ITF, they’ve backed what we’ve been talking about. The reason we’re on TV isn’t just because we’re inspirational, it’s because we’re elite athletes, too. People want to watch it.”