Doubles Masters: Clash of the titans

Top seeds to meet defending champions in Bemmel 17 Nov 2018
male wheelchair tennis players Antony Cotterill and Andy Lapthorne in action on the court

Cotterill and Lapthorne are aiming to topple defending champions Taylor and Wagner in the 2018 Doubles Masters quad final

ⒸMathilde Dusol

Reigning champions Nick Taylor and David Wagner will play top seeds Antony Cotterill and Andy Lapthorne in the quad final for the third year in a row when they meet on Saturday at the 2018 Wheelchair Doubles Masters in Bemmel, Netherlands.

With one win and one loss from the first two days of round-robin competition, Cotterill and Lapthorne rose to the challenge posed by USA’s Greg Hasterok and Lucas Sithole to seal a crucial 6-4 7-6(3) victory in their final pool match.

“It was a tough one to take yesterday, a tough loss (against Taylor and Wagner), but we came out today and got the job done,” said Lapthorne.

“They played really well, to be fair, and it’s only their third or fourth match together, so they’ve had chance to get some rhythm together and played well. But it’s always good to get to another final and we’re looking forward to playing Nick and Dave,” he continued.

“It’s one-all in Doubles Masters finals, so you look forward to these challenges and you always want to play against the best players.”

Meanwhile, Taylor and Wagner earned a more clear-cut 6-1 6-2 win over fellow American Bryan Barten and Brazil’s Ymanitu Silva to complete their three round-robin matches with three wins.

Cotterill and Lapthorne will now bid to achieve the same as 10-time Doubles Masters champions Taylor and Wagner did last year, after losing their round-robin match against the Brits but going on to beat the same opponents in the final.

Women’s semis line-up complete

After beating Dutch second seeds Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot on Wednesday, Louise Hunt (GB) and Dana Mathewson (USA) came back after a day’s break from competition to duly join Katharina Kruger and Michaela Spaanstra in completing the women’s doubles semi-final line-up.

Hunt and Mathewson were made to work for their 6-4 7-6(6) victory over Japanese duo Momoko Ohtani and Manami Tanaka as the Anglo-American partnership came from behind in the second set tiebreak to earn a place in their second Doubles Masters semi-final together in the space of three years

With Hunt and Mathewson finishing top of Pool B, there is still the chance of this year’s final being a repeat of the 2016 final against Diede de Groot and Lucy Shuker, who had already won their two round-robin contests to finish top of Pool B.

De Groot and Shuker will now play Buis and van Koot in Saturday’s semi-finals, while Hunt and Mathewson will face Kruger and Spaanstra.

Japanese joy

Japan’s Shingo Kunieda and Takashi Sanada joined Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson in securing the two remaining men’s doubles semi-final berths that were available on Friday’s last day of round-robin competition.

Kunieda and Sanada won a thrilling Pool B encounter against Dutch opponents Tom Egberink and Maikel Scheffers, who were cheered on by some enthusiastic home fans.

It looked like the Dutch fans would be rewarded for their support early in the third and deciding set, but Kunieda and Sanada dug deep to close out a 6-3 2-6 7-5 victory after three hours and 10 minutes, having been 4-1 down in the third.

“It was a very exciting match and it was really tough, but my partner Sanada was very good. He stayed aggressive until the end and we controlled the match from 1-4 behind in the final set,” said Kunieda.

While Kunieda and Sanada progressed as runners-up in Pool B, there was something of an upset for pool winners and second seeds Gustavo Fernandez and Gordon Reid, who experienced their first loss of the week after an admirable performance from 19-year-old Ruben Spaargaren and 17-year-old Jef Vandorpe.

Spaargaren and Vandorpe excelled against the more experienced former Australian Open finalists Fernandez and Reid to record a 3-6 6-3 6-2 victory, ensuring that their debut UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters as a partnership ended on memorable note.

Despite Friday’s loss, Pool B winners Fernandez and Reid go on to face 2018 Wimbledon finalists and British Open champions Joachim Gerard and Stefan Olsson in the semi-finals in Bemmel.

You can watch Saturday’s action live on the International Paralympic Committee website.