Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid joined Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot in winning their second UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters titles apiece on the last day of the ITF’s year-end doubles championship in Orlando, while Sam Schroder and Niels Vink made it two Dutch doubles titles on the day as they eased to victory in the quad final.
Top seeds Hewett and Reid, who became the first men’s doubles wheelchair tennis partnership to win the calendar Grand Slam together in September, repeated their victory over French seconds seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer in the 2017 Doubles Masters final, winning the latest contest between the rivals 6-4, 6-1.
Hewett and Reid saw a 3-1 lead slip away as Houdet and Peifer levelled the first set at 4-4, but the Brits regrouped to clinch the set with back-to-back games.
Thereafter, Hewett and Reid maintained their momentum and made it six games in a row as they opened a 4-0 second set, a brief revival to the fortunes of their French opponents only offering temporary resistance as Hewett and Reid wrapped up victory in an hour and 39 minutes.
DE GROOT AND VAN KOOT CLAIM SECOND WOMEN'S DOUBLES MASTERS TITLE
When de Groot and van Koot won their first Doubles Masters title together in Orlando in 2019, it was at the end of a season that had also seen them win the calendar Grand Slam.
This season they won three of the four majors, only missing out on the Wimbledon title, while they finished their 2021 season just two losses on their 2021 record after defeating Momoko Ohtani of Japan and Chinese Zhenzhen Zhu 6-3 6-3 to claim their second Doubles Masters title.
Ohtani was on the opposite side of the net in Australia in February, when de Groot and van Koot lost their first match of the season and while the Japanese player and Zhu arrived in Orlando with just one 2019 tournament behind them, their relative lack of experience as partners belied the successes they enjoyed against the top seeds.
Ohtani and Zhu strung together two games in a row two lead 2-1 early in the opening set, but de Groot and van Koot were soon back in font before coming from 30-0 down to make it 5-3. De Groot then closed out the set as she expertly slotted a forehand down the centre of the court that caused enough of hesitation and miscommunication among their opponents to prove effective.
Ohtani and Zhu continued to show plenty of promise, should they play more tournaments together in the future, and they opened up a 2-0 second set lead. However, de Groot and van Koot won 15 of the next 16 points to make it 4-2 and although they needed six match points against a resilient set of opponents, a de Groot forehand drew the crucial error off Zhu’s racket to complete the Dutch victory.
SCHRODER-VINK BECOME 1ST DUTCH PAIR TO WIN DOUBLES MASTERS QUAD TITLE
Schroder and Vink have largely swept all before them on the doubles court this year, growing in confidence and prowess as the year has progressed, having lost twice to Australia’s Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson in Australia in February.
However, the Dutch duo have been unbeaten since early May and avenged their two losses against Alcott and Davidson earlier in the year when beating the same opponents to become Tokyo Paralympic quad doubles champions and then US Open champions just a week later.
Schroder and Vink began their first UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters campaign together with a 6-1, 6-0 win over USA’s record-breaking 11-time Doubles Masters champions Nick Taylor and David Wagner and while Taylor and Wagner went on to improve their fortunes to book a place in what will be their last Doubles Masters together, their fortunes against Schroder and Vink merely shifted to winning a game in the second set of the quad doubles final as the top seeds eased to the title.
Schroder and Vink will go down in history as the first Dutch winners of the quad title at the Doubles Masters with a combined age of just 40, suggesting that if they achieve the longevity of Taylor and Wagner, they may still threaten the record number of titles accumulated by the celebrated American partnership since 2005.
Taylor had already extended his career to one last match after he and Wagner emerged from the round-robin phase of the competition to reach their first Doubles Masters final since 2018. But the former World No. 1 quad singles and doubles player now goes into retirement as not only an 11-time Doubles Masters champion, but also an 11-time Grand Slam champion and a three-time Paralympic gold medallist, having achieved all of those titles partnering Wagner.