Australian Open 2019 set for thrilling start

Hewett and Kunieda face off in first Grand Slam 22 Jan 2019
male wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett yells in triumph after winning a point

Alfie Hewett faces a tough return to action against world No. 1 Shingo Kunieda at the Australian Open

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Grand Slam champions – and IPC Ones to Watch - Alfie Hewett and Shingo Kunieda have been drawn to face-off in the first round of the men’s singles when wheelchair tennis begins at the Australian Open on Wednesday (23 January).

It will arguably be the most eye-catching match of the quarter finals, with the Brit playing his first match since beating Kunieda at last year’s US Open to lift his second career Grand Slam.

Japan’s world No.1 seeks to win his 10th singles title at Melbourne Park and his 23rd Grand Slam overall.

Last year’s Australian Open runner-up Stephane Houdet will play 2016 champion Gordon Reid for a place in the semi-finals.

Argentina’s 2017 champion Gustavo Fernandez will face Australian wild card Ben Weekes and two-time Wimbledon champion Stefan Olsson will play his doubles partner Joachim Gerard.

The Belgian and the Swede begin the Australian Open as men’s doubles second seeds this year, with Wimbledon and US Open champions Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid the top seeds.

Deja vu for de Groot in opener

For the second week in a row, world No. 1 Diede de Groot will meet world No. 7 Lucy Shuker in her opening match in Melbourne.

The Dutch aims not only to defend one of the three Grand Slam titles she won in 2018, but also claim her first singles title of the year after finishing runner-up at last week’s Melbourne Open.

World No. 2 and 2017 Australian Open champion Yui Kamiji will bid to extend her eight-match winning streak in 2019 when she faces debutant and world No. 5 Giulia Capocci.

Four former Australian Open champions will compete in the women’s singles field as 2013 title winner Aniek van Koot plays South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane and 2014 champion Sabine Ellerbrock faces Netherlands’ Marjolein Buis.

A new partnership will have their names on the women’s doubles trophy, with 2018 champions Buis and Kamiji partnering other players this year. Kamiji joins forces with Capocci as the Italian makes her Grand Slam debut, while Buis teams up with Sabine Ellerbrock.

De Groot partners van Koot this time as the world No. 1 takes aim at the only Grand Slam doubles title to elude her last season. The top seeds play Capocci and Kamiji for a place in the final, while Buis and Ellerbrock face Shuker and Montjane.

Alcott chasing fifth title

The host nation will be doubly represented by world No. 1 Dylan Alcott and world No. 5 and wild card entry Heath Davidson.

They will meet world No. 2 David Wagner and world No. 3 Andy Lapthorne respectively in the round-robin phase of the competition. The top two players will then go forward to Saturday’s final.

Alcott, the 2018 ITF world champion, will be aiming for his fifth Australian Open title and his third successive Grand Slam.

Wagner is hoping to emerge victorious in Melbourne for the first time since 2014, when he won the most recent of his three Australian Open crowns.

In the doubles, Lapthorne and Wagner will be trying to make it back-to-back Grand Slam titles in the quad doubles decider. However, they will need to dethrone home favourites Alcott and Davidson.