Gerard serves up an upset
PUBLISHED: 07:30 07 December 2015
Belgian wins Wheelchair Tennis Masters in London
Joachim Gerard, Jiske Griffioen and David Wagner were crowned NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters champions as the season-ending elite tournament reached a stunning climax with three finals at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London.
Gerard scored a sensational upset in the men’s final against defending champion Shingo Kunieda and it was the Belgian’s second win over the world number one this week.
In the group stages on Thursday, Gerard ended Kunieda’s 77-match winning streak on the International Tennis Federation wheelchair tour, a sequence which had stretched back to January 2014.
He said: “I’m speechless. For the moment I’m just happy, very very happy because to win and beat Shingo twice. He was unbeaten for nearly two years, I just want to enjoy it.
“Despite beating him earlier in the week I wasn’t overly confident because I knew he would play better. It was a really good match for him and for me and we put on a good show for wheelchair tennis.
“This is for sure the best achievement of my career. It’s the best eight players in the world here and I’ve won which is amazing.”
A gracious Kunieda said: “It was a tough match for me but I don’t think I played badly; he played very well. I said in the interview on court that he deserved the win definitely.”
Griffioen’s 6-2 6-2 victory over Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock showed just why the 30-year-old Dutchwoman has enjoyed such a successful year, which began with her winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros singles titles and has now culminated in her second career Masters title (she also won in 2012).
“I had such a good first half to the season winning my first two Grand Slam singles titles and becoming world number one. I struggled a little bit more in the second half, so to finish with this one means a lot to me,” said Griffioen.
“It’s always good to come back here after the London Paralympics, we got a good crowd and lots of media attention so I’ve really enjoyed it.”
In the Quad final, Wagner proved too strong for Lucas Sithole with a 7-6 6-4 win which dashed Sithole’s hopes of becoming the first African to win a Masters trophy.
“It’s an awesome way to finish the year; you’re here with the world’s best tennis players and it’s an honour to win,” said the 39-year-old American, whose victory marked a record eighth Masters title.
“I really look forward to this tournament. I know it’s a fun event, I know it’s the best of the best and I know that the people who put it on organise a stellar event.”
Wagner’s victory signed off the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters for another year, until the season finale returns to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre again in November 2016.
This year’s tournament was shown on BBC via its red button service and on the BBC Website for the first time.
Results – Men’s singles final: J. Gerard (BEL) beat S. Kunieda (JPN) 7-5 2-6 6-3.
Women’s singles final: J. Griffioen (NED) beat S. Ellerbrock (GER) 6-2 6-2.
Quad final: David Wagner (USA) beat Lucas Sithole (RSA) 7-6 6-4.
Men’s singles third place: S. Houdet (FRA) beat N. Peifer (FRA) 6-2 6-2.
Women’s singles third place: A. van. Koot (NED) beat M. Buis (NED) 6-7 6-3 6-4.