Great Britain’s world No.1 Alfie Hewett added a new career landmark to his impressive list of wheelchair tennis achievements on Sunday when he won the first men’s singles Super Series title of his career at the Cajun Classic in Baton Rouge, USA. Hewett beat Shingo Kunieda of Japan 6-3, 7-6(6) in Sunday’s final.
Hewett, who won his first Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garros in June last year, capped a superb week as he defended his crown in Baton Rouge without dropping a set.
First title of the year 🏆 Defending the singles title at the Cajun Classic without dropping a set the whole tourney. Thanks team who have been there the last few weeks, you know who you are 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/K2NHl0tggL
— Alfie Hewett (@alfiehewett6) March 25, 2018
Twelve months ago Hewett claimed what was then the second ITF 1 Series singles title of his career at the Cajun Classic. The tournament has been upgraded to Super Series status this year, becoming one of the six most prestigious standalone wheelchair tennis events outside of the four Grand Slams, which means Hewett’s successful title defence therefore earns him even more points to strengthen his world No.1 ranking.
“He’s (Kunieda) beaten me the last couple of times so I was really up for today, even though I felt tired. I really wanted to get on court and prove a point. He’s had a really good start to the year and played some his best tennis for a long, long while. I knew it was going to be tough and I came out and played some of my best tennis,” said 20-year-old Rio Paralympic silver medallist Hewett after claiming his third career win over two-time Paralympic champion and reigning Australian Open champion Kunieda.
“I really focussed on process goals and they paid off this week. I haven’t dropped a set and that’s a very big thing for me, so I can go home very, very happy.”
A fine last day of competition for players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis World Class Programme also saw British No.1 Lucy Shuker partner Diede de Groot of the Netherlands to win the women’s doubles title.
From 5-2 down in the third and deciding set of the final the second seeds launched a stirring comeback to edge out Dutch top seeds Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot 2-6, 6-3, 7-5. It was the second title in as many weeks for Shuker and de Groot, who also beat Buis and van Koot in the final of last week’s ITF 1 Georgia Open. Shuker and de Groot are now unbeaten in five tournaments together.
“I know I’ve said it before, but I absolutely love playing with Diede, we know how we need to play and even when things aren’t working we work really well together to find our form. Today we were 5-2 down in the third and even faced a match point, but I know with Diede we will always keep fighting and working,” said Shuker, who has now won the women’s doubles at the last three Super Series tournaments, in St. Louis in September 2017 and in Sydney and Baton Rouge this season.