Stefan Olsson of Sweden, Dutchman Sam Schroder and Giulia Capocci of Italy commanded the headlines on Saturday at Bath Indoor Wheelchair Tennis Tournament after victories in the men’s, quad and women’s singles finals.
A spectacular last day of competition at the final ITF 1 Series event on the 2018 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour concluded with an epic men’s singles decider. With both finalists pushing each other all the way two-time Wimbledon champion and 2017 Bath Indoor runner-up Olsson edged out French second seed Stephane Houdet 5-7, 7-5, 7-6(7) after two hours and 58 mins of enthralling tennis.
“I’ve been playing really well all week and I’ve just had a blast. I stuck with it today and kept fighting and that made the big difference because I was down in all three sets,” said world No. 7 and fourth seed Olsson.
“He’s (Houdet) really smart out there. I really have to try and out-think him, which is not the easiest part to do. I changed up a little bit from the second set and it worked really well. I had a little bit of a bad start in the third, but I just kept on fighting really hard and got it back. I was down a couple of match points, so I’m super happy with the win.”
Victory in the quad singles final capped a memorable week for 19-year-old Schroder, who arrived in Bath without a seeding. After securing his first career win over world No.1 David Wagner of the USA in Friday’s semi-finals, Schroder produced another exceptional performance to defeat South African second seed Lucas Sithole 6-3, 6-2 in the final.
Former world No.6 Schroder, who had to take the best part of ten months out of the sport on health grounds before returning to competition in July this year, said:
“It was a very difficult draw for me. I’ve played all three top seeds this week, so I can’t really believe I’ve managed it. Especially after winning the semi-final against the world No.1. It’s been an incredible tournament for me after all that happened last year (with his health) and then being able to win my first ITF 1 already. It’s just crazy.
“Next year I want to get back in the top ten again and get my raking high enough so that I can start the following year well so I can qualify for Tokyo, of course. And now that Wimbledon has quad (singles and doubles) events next year maybe I can get in with a wild card. That would be really crazy. I’ve proven that I can win against the best in the world, so that gives me a lot of confidence.”
Second seed and world No. 6 Capocci wrapped up the second ITF 1 Series title of her career with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over South African top seed Kgothatso Montjane. Capocci ends her first visit to Bath having dropping just one set in her opening match of the week.
“I’ve played very well this week. I love to win, of course, but it’s more difficult to win a tournament when it’s your first time here, but I’ve loved it (in Bath) this week. Next year I hope to make it to the top three in the rankings and I feel my level of play is progressing that way.”