Australian Open sees return of champs Alcott and Kunieda

Dylan Alcott and Shingo Kunieda look to defend their titles from last year 12 Feb 2021
two male wheelchair tennis players shake hands at the net
Dylan Alcott (left) is the favourite in the quad division
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Wheelchair tennis action kicks off at the Australian Open from 14 February, and the first Grand Slam wheelchair tennis draw to feature eight quad players produced some familiar first-round clashes.

Defending champion Dylan Alcott was handed an all-Australian clash with doubles partner Heath Davidson. Top seed Alcott, who was present for the draw alongside fellow world No. 1 Diede De Groot and Shingo Kunieda, reacted in disbelief as the bracket was displayed at the draw ceremony.

It was the same story for USA’s David Wagner and Andy Lapthorne of Great Britain, stalwarts of the four-strong fields of previous Grand Slams and doubles partners in Melbourne this year, who will face off in the other half of the draw.

Dutch debutant Niels Vink will face USA wild card Nick Taylor, playing his first major since 2015, while Japan’s Koji Sunego will take on US Open champion Sam Schroder.

The theme continued in the women’s draw, where top seed De Groot will open against doubles partner and last year’s finalist Aniek Van Koot. Defending champion Yui Kamiji faces Chilean Grand Slam debutant Maca Cabrillana, while Japan’s Momoko Ohtani takes on Lucy Shuker of Great Britain and Colombia’s Angelica Bernal faces Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa.

Ten-time Australian Open men’s singles champion Kunieda will launch his defence against Australian wild card Ben Weekes, while No. 2 seed Gustavo Fernandez faces Great Britain’s Gordon Reid. Fellow Brit Alfie Hewett opens against Nicolas Peifer, while Stephane Houdet takes on Joachim Gerard.

The Australian Open runs until 17 February, and full results will be available on the International Tennis Federation's website.