“It was a really good win, he’s got a wealth of experience and some amazing shots."
Australia’s Dylan Alcott secured his third major quad singles final place in three British based tournaments this season when he remained unbeaten on Thursday (27 November), the second day of round-robin matches at the 2014 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters in London.
The first men’s and women’s singles semi-finalists were also decided at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Thursday with wins for Japan’s world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda in the men’s draw and the Netherlands’ Jiske Griffioen and Britain’s Jordanne Whiley in the women’s.
Alcott’s 6-2 6-2 victory over world No. 1 David Wagner of the USA means he will contest his second final in two successive visits to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, after finishing with a silver medal when he was a member of Australia’s men’s wheelchair basketball team at London 2012.
“It was a really good win, he’s got a wealth of experience and some amazing shots. I lost to him the first seven times I played him. I’ve realised you just have to stay in every point because if you drop one short he just goes bang,” said world No. 4 Alcott, the 2014 British Open and Nottingham Indoor champion.
The second place in Saturday’s quad singles final will be decided by the world’s top two ranked players after Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne clinched a straight sets wins over South Africa’s 2012 NEC Masters runner-up Lucas Sithole. Lapthorne and Wagner will meet in a must-win contest for both of them on Friday.
Lapthorne said: “I think I’ve only lost to him (David Wagner) once this year so I’m confident. When the big matches come and the pressure comes I seem to do well against him so hopefully I can come out on top. This is what you play the game for – the pressure and I’m looking forward to it.”
Kunieda books men’s semifinal berth
London 2012 men’s singles gold medallist Kunieda and France’s Nicolas Peifer go into the last day of the men’s round-robin matches with unblemished records.
Kunieda made it two wins from two matches after beating his countryman Takashi Sanada 6-2 6-2 to ensure he will finish in one of the top two positions in Pool A and therefore progress to Saturday’s semi-finals.
“I played the last four games well so I’m going into the semi-final in good form. It’s not usually his game to come to the net so much, but with this court and playing indoor it was very good tactics,” said Kunieda, who beat Sanada to win the Asian Para Games men’s singles gold medal in October.
In the other Pool A match, world No. 5 Maikel Scheffers came from 5-2 down in the opening set of his second match against Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez to prevail 7-6(3) 6-2 and set up a tense qualification decider against NEC Masters debutant Sanada.
There is still plenty to play for in Pool B after world No. 7 Peifer recorded a 6-2 7-5 victory over Belgium’s 2013 runner-up Joachim Gerard. Meanwhile, world No. 3 Gordon Reid kept alive his ambitions of becoming the first Brit to reach the men’s semi-finals in the NEC Masters after his clinical 6-2 6-2 win over former France’s champion Stephane Houdet, the London 2012 silver medallist second straight loss.
“Tomorrow it’s all or nothing. I need to win to go through” said Reid ahead of meeting Peifer. “It’s going to be a totally different match because he’s a different type of player, but I just need to try and dominate like I did today and hopefully the result will follow.”
Griffioen and Whiley secure women’s semi-final berths
In a rematch of the 2012 women’s final, Jiske Griffioen kept herself on track for a possible third successive NEC Masters women’s singles final appearance with a 6-3 6-1 win over compatriot and world No 3. Aniek van Koot.
On Friday Van Koot will play Marjolein Buis to decide which of them will join Griffioen in providing a double Dutch presence in the last four. World No. 5 Buis fended off South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane 6-3 6-4 in her second match of the week.
“It was a really good to get the win so I’m still in the race for the semi. It’s very good to enter Friday’s match with a win today, so I’m really happy,” said Buis. “Even yesterday when I lost I did some good things, today I had some really good moments so I feel good.”
The last four could yet feature a rematch of the 2013 women’s final between Griffioen and Japan’s Yui Kamiji, a contest that would see the world’s top two players go head-to-head.
Kamiji recovered from her shock defeat on Thursday, to secure her first win of the competition against Dutch world No. 7 Sharon Walraven 6-0 7-5. She will now meet world No. 4 Sabine Ellerbrock in a winner takes all last pool match after the German lost 6-3 7-5 to Whiley.
“That win was so important, I didn’t want to be a one hit wonder and to be honest I was really nervous today,” said Whiley who by remaining undefeated in Pool A has already booked her semi-final spot.
“I wanted to go out and perform I didn’t want to flag, but towards the end of the match at 3-1 I started to feel very tired. I was losing energy and it was really difficult to focus, so I’m quite happy that I managed to push myself that extra ten per cent to get over the line.”
NEC Wheelchair Tennis Masters live scoring is available here which will also host live streaming of the finals on Saturday 29 November and Sunday 30 November.