Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley will all bid to retain Wimbledon doubles titles this weekend after a largely successful second day for Brits on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme at The Championships.
Hewett and Reid, who made history when becoming the first all-British partnership to win the Wimbledon men’s wheelchair doubles title in 2016, will aim to become the third partnership to retain the title when they face French top seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer on Court 3 on Saturday.
Second seeds Hewett and Reid defeated Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez and Shingo Kunieda pf Japan 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in Friday’s semi-finals to set up a rematch of last year’s final against Houdet and Peifer.
“We never thought it was going to be ease today and it wasn’t, but there was a singles point in that third set that I think turned the match in our favour,” said Reid. “I had a succession of reflex volleys and finally managed to smash the ball away. We were 2-1 down at that stage and didn’t lose another game after that.”
“We’re really looking forward to playing on Court 3 tomorrow,” said Hewett.” The crowd support on Court 17’s been incredible today and hopefully everyone will come out on Court 3 and support us tomorrow and we can feed off that crowd support again. It can only be good for the sport to have the final on such a show court and just shows how far wheelchair tennis has come.”
Earlier in the day Hewett came close to emulating Reid last year and reaching the men’s singles final, but the 19-year-old world No. 6 ultimately lost out narrowly to world No.1 Fernandez 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-3.
“Physically that was a very tough match – it’s tough for everyone on the grass – so I was just determined to fight for every point in the doubles and me and Gordon make a great team. There was definitely that one point at 2-1 down in the final set that just increased our energy levels and after that point I think it was one of our best ever performances for the rest of the set.”
Three-time Wimbledon champions Whiley and Yui Kamiji began their campaign for a fourth successive ladies’ doubles title at The Championships with a narrow 6-4, 6-4 victory over the USA’s Dana Mathewson and Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands.
With Mathewson coming in as a replacement for van Koot’s regular doubles partner Jiske Griffioen, who had to withdraw due to illness, Whiley and Kamiji coped well with the change of line-up for their opponents and wrapped up victory after reeling off three games in a row.
They will now face Rio Paralympic silver medallists Marjolein Buis and Diede de Groot in Sunday’s final.
“I’ve been out of action for quite a long time this year so I didn’t really expect to be in any Wimbledon final this time, so to get to the doubles final for the fifth straight year with Yui is fantastic,” said Whiley. “We’re best friends and there’s no one I would rather be going for a fourth Wimbledon title with. We’ve got nothing to lose after coming here unseeded, so I’m really excited for the final.”
Lucy Shuker’s hopes of joining Whiley and Kamiji in the ladies’ doubles final ended in a 6-4, 6-1 loss with her partner Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany. Shuker and Ellerbrock boosted their hopes of making it to the final after coming back from 4-2 down to level the opening set against Buis and de Groot at 4-4. However, the Rio Paralympic silver medallists made the stronger finish.