Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett produced an exemplary performance to win his first men’s singles US Open title and his second career Grand Slam singles title on Sunday in New York, defeating world No.1 Shingo Kunieda of Japan 6-3, 7-5.
Exactly a week on from world No.2 Hewett beating Kunieda in the final of the US Open USTA Wheelchair Championships in St, Louis to win the last Super Series title of the year, Hewett bounced back from 2-0 down to take the opening set. After a tentative start he visibly increased his intensity and hit a succession of impressive winners to reel off four games in succession and another forehand winner saw Hewett convert his second set point.
Hewett swapped service breaks with 22-time Grand Slam singles champion and six-time US Open champion Kunieda early in the second set and had chalked up in excess of 40 winners midway through the set. The 20-year-old Brit held to open up a 5-3 lead and had his first championship point in the next game. After breaking Kunieda’s serve to love for a 6-5 lead Hewett served for the match for a second time and set up another championship point with a backhand winner. Kunieda fired his next service return long to complete a famous victory for the British No.1 after an hour and 55 minutes.
In the wake of his second Grand Slam singles title, Hewett said:
“It’s been a near-perfect two weeks for me in the States. Three titles out of a possible four was something I really didn’t think would happen. To come here and play the way I did, after a long week last week and then the nightmare travelling experience I had between St. Louis and New York, it’s hard to believe I made it past the first match, let alone win both titles without dropping a set.
“I worked hard in my training up to this, so to get the rewards is a great a feeling. Shingo played a great match and he gave me nothing out on court. He worked me hard for every point and I had to earn that victory; that shows what a true competitor he is. I’m looking forward to celebrating and enjoying this achievement and will take a break when I get back,” added Hewett, who reached his first US Open singles final in 2017 before finishing runner-up to Frenchman Stephane Houdet.
Hewett’s victory means Brits completed the US Open wheelchair tennis event with three titles after Hewett and Gordon Reid beat top seeds Houdet and Nicolas Peifer in the final of the men’s doubles for the second year in a row on Saturday. Also on Saturday, Andy Lapthorne partnered David Wagner of the USA to win the quad doubles title for the second year in a row.
Hewett completes a full set of Grand Slam singles titles for British men’s players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme. Reid won the Australian Open and Wimbledon singles titles in 2016 before Hewett claimed his maiden Grand Slam singles crown at Roland Garros in 2017.