Stephane Houdet and Shingo Kunieda now hold three of the four wheelchair doubles Grand Slam titles after a comprehensive win in the men’s final on Friday afternoon.By David Penrose | Friday, 24 January, 2014
Stephane Houdet and Shingo Kunieda are the Australian Open men’s wheelchair doubles champions after overcoming the pairing of Gordon Reid and Maikel Scheffers on Friday.
Houdet and Kunieda now hold the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon titles after a 6-3 6-3 victory on Court 6.
“In the first set it was 4-1 and they came back to 4-3, and then it was close to 4-4, so every time they came back,” said Houdet after the match.
After losing to Reid and Scheffers in the Sydney International Wheelchair Open two weeks ago, Houdet and Kunieda entered Friday’s final with a plan for victory.
“We had to focus on keeping their aggressiveness (restricted) during the match and to play our game,” said Houdet.
Houdet and Kunieda broke their opponents’ serve on six occasions, as Reid and Scheffers only managed to win 49 per cent of first serve points.
“That’s one of the assets of wheelchair tennis players to have a good return, because you can drive your chair and you’re faster than the ones that are serving,” Houdet said.
“It’s important to have a good return.”
With three of the four Grand Slams in their possession, at least half of the pair wants more.
“For sure, I want all the slams, but I don’t know about Shingo,” said Houdet.
For now, Kunieda has a chance at an Australian Open double on Saturday, when he faces Argentinean Gustavo Fernandez in the singles final.
Fernandez became the first South American into the semifinals of a Grand Slam during the week, where he eliminated Houdet to reach the final.
However, Houdet has no advice for his partner despite the loss.
“I’m curious as a player to understand the way he (Shingo) plays Gustavo so I can beat him next time, so he is the one to give me advice,” said Houdet.
Fernandez faces a stern test in the final, with Kunieda striving for a seventh Australian Open wheelchair singles title.
In the women’s doubles final, Yui Kamiji and Jordanne Whiley outlasted Marjolein Buis and Jiske Griffioen 6-2 6-7(3) 6-2 in a match which lasted over two hours.
Buis and Griffioen hit back to win the second set in a tiebreak after the top-seeded pair had claimed the opening set in less than half an hour.
But Kamiji and Whiley proved too strong in the final set, breaking the Dutch duo’s serve on four occasions to secure the title.
Meanwhile, Australian Dylan Alcott suffered another heartbreaking loss in the final round of quad wheelchair singles’ round-robin.
Alcott took the opening set for the third consecutive match, but failed to close out the match in the second set against his doubles’ partner Lucas Sithole.
South African Sithole survived a tight final set to win the match 2-6 6-2 8-6 on Court 7.