Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid made a unique piece of sporting history on Thursday when the Brits won the first ever US Open wheelchair tennis match to played on Arthur Ashe Stadium, earning them a place in Saturday’s men’s doubles final at the last Grand Slam of the year.
A largely good day in New York for players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme also saw Andy Lapthorne make an impressive start to his quad singles campaign, beating 2015 US Open champion and Rio Paralympic gold medallist Dylan Alcott in the first of his three round-robin matches.
Two-time Wimbledon champions Hewett and Reid took the last three games of the opening set and the last five game of the match to win their men’s doubles semi-final against Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez and Shingo Kunieda of Japan 63 62.
“It was incredible to have that opportunity. We really cherish that as wheelchair players. Australia at the start of the year having the quad final on Rod Laver and then Wimbledon putting us on a stadium court and now here, not even one of the finals, but one of the first matches was on Ashe. So I think that’s showing the respect that wheelchair tennis is gaining,” said Reid after he and Hewett reached their third Grand Slam final of the year together. They also reversed the result of their semi-final against Fernandez and Kunieda at last week’s USTA Championships Super Series in St. Louis.
“It really is the stuff that dreams are made of, to play on Ashe. Hopefully, it’s not the last time.
— Gordon Reid (@GordonReid91) September 7, 2017
“I thought we played well. There were a couple of dips in it. We did the right things at the right time to win. I think maybe everyone was a little bit nervous playing on the big court and a Grand Slam match, it was an important match, but I think we dealt with it the best,” added Reid, who was men’s doubles champion at the US Open in 2015 partnering Frenchman Stephane Houdet.
The second-seeded Brits will now play top seeds Houdet and Nicolas Peifer in Saturday’s final, having finished runners-up to the French duo at Roland Garros before beating them for the second year in a row in the Wimbledon final.
“We knew a few days ago that there were going to be some matches on Ashe, but I found out at 8 pm last night – it was a nice surprise. It was an exciting day, we played well as a team. I like the atmosphere here and I’m have a good time,” said Hewett after the 19-year-old Roland Garros champion made a winning US Open debut.
Hewett will now play Kunieda in his opening men’s singles match on Friday, while Reid faces Belgium’s Joachim Gerard in his bid to reach the semi-finals.
In the quad singles 2014 US Open champion Lapthorne built on a 3-0 first set lead and 4-0 second set lead to beat Alcott 64 61 after 68 minutes.
“It’s great to beat a guy that’s been unbeaten for so long, I’ve been due a win over him. I’ve had a lot of heartbreak on a tennis court against him so it’s nice to get a win over him here,” said Lapthorne, who was quad singles silver medallist behind Alcott at the Rio Paralympics.
World No.2 Lapthorne arrived in New York as the only player to have beaten current world No.4 Alcott in the Australian’s last 50 matches.
“Three more big matches to go and I’m hoping to play well in all three and see where it takes me.”
Victory in three more matches would, in fact, see Lapthorne regain the US Open title he won in 2014, with the top two players after three days of round-robin competition going forward to Sunday’s quad singles final. He will now play American world No. 1 David Wagner on Friday ahead of teaming up with Wagner for Saturday’s quad doubles final.
Lucy Shuker’s women’s doubles campaign started well when the British No.1 and Japan’s Yui Kamiji took the opening set of their semi-final against the USA’s Dana Mathewson and Aniek van Koot of the Netherlands after just 22 minutes. However, Shuker and Kamiji’s hopes of adding to their Super Series doubles title in St. Louis last week came to an end after Mathewson and van Koot came back to win 06 64 (10-5).
Shuker will now play world No.1 Kamiji in Friday’s women’s singles quarter-finals.