Alfie Hewett created his own piece of sporting history on Thursday at Roland Garros after reaching his first Grand Slam singles semi-final.
Hewett became the latest player on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme to reach the last four of one of the sport’s four majors when he beat 2016 Wimbledon finalist Stefan Olsson of Sweden 7-6(5), 6-3.
He arrived in Paris world ranked No. 7, one place behind Olsson. However, the 19-year Rio Paralympic silver medallist fought back from 3-1 down to lead the opening set 5-3. After having chances to close out the set, Hewett was taken to a tie-break. Nevertheless, he claimed an early mini-break and held on to snatch the advantage.
Hewett made a quicker start to the second set, earning an immediate break and opening up a 5-2 lead before closing out for the victory. He will now contest his first Grand Slam singles semi-final against six-time Roland Garros champion Shingo Kunieda of Japan.
“I’m very happy to get the win against Olsson today. The conditions weren’t easy and he got off to a good start, so I had to dig deep to get back into the first set,” said Hewett. “I had multiple set points during the first set and he played well to save them, so it went down to the wire and to clinch that set was really important for me to be able to relax. Once I won the first set I noticed bit of a change and I was able to play the tennis I wanted.
“I’m feeling in a good place and am ready to fight for a place in the final tomorrow against a very experienced and challenging player in Shingo.”
Hewett will also contest Friday’s doubles semi-finals alongside fellow Brits Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley. But neither Reid nor Whiley were able to progress in their singles events after rematches of 2016 contests in Paris.
Reid’s hopes of adding a third Grand Slam singles title to his achievements came to an early end. In a rematch of the 2015 Roland Garros final reigning Wimbledon champion Reid lost out 6-2, 6-0 to Argentina’s defending champion Gustavo Fernandez.
Meanwhile, Whiley’s bid to reach the Roland Garros singles semi-finals for the second successive year came to an end against Sabine Ellerbrock. Whiley played Ellerbrock in the last four last year. With the nine-time Grand Slam champion playing her first match of 2017 after recovering from injury, the German former champion advanced 6-3, 6-2
Wimbledon champions Hewett and Reid begin their bid to add the Roland Garros men’s doubles title tomorrow when they face Fernandez and Dutchman Maikel Scheffers.
Whiley and her Dutch partner Diede de Groot play Japan’s Yui Kamiji and Marjolein Buis of the Netherlands in their women’s doubles semi-final.