France’s Houdet focused ahead of Rio 2016

Stephane Houdet, the current men’s single No. 1, does not want to get lost in all the Paralympic hype. 18 Aug 2016
Stephane Houdet of France won his first British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships men’s singles title.

Stephane Houdet of France won his first British Open Wheelchair Tennis Championships men’s singles title.

ⒸTennis Foundation
By Andrew Cross | For the IPC

"You don’t know who's going to win."

With the Olympics already triggering his excitement, French star and current world No. 1 Stephane Houdet wants to keep it all under wraps until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games get underway.

“I am very happy to play in the Paralympics, but I want to stay very calm and not spend too much energy being too excited,” said Houdet.

“As tennis players, we are so lucky that every week and many times a year we have huge challenges to focus on.”

Houdet will compete in his third Paralympics – both in singles and doubles – after displaying his talents at Beijing 2008 and London 2012. He will enter Rio with a lot of momentum, his latest win being the British Open.

The 45-year-old started the year by taking the Australian Open doubles title, alongside fellow countryman Nicolas Peifer, before winning the BNP Paribas World Team Cup singles title in May.

The British Open title added to an impressive year of preparation for Houdet, but he will have to battle Great Britain’s Gordon Reid, who will be a firm favourite after the recent Wimbledon Grand Slam victory.

“To be as close as it will be in Rio, I decided to play more tournaments this year. I want to be focused on match conditions,” Houdet said.

“Gordon won two out of the three Slams this year and his team with Alfie is a great one. They are both ones to watch in Rio, which is also what is great with wheelchair tennis. You don’t know who's going to win.”

The fight for the medals will come from Reid but also from Japan’s multi-medallist Shingo Kunieda, who has two golds and a bronze to his name.

However, Kunieda underwent surgery in April and has not been at his best throughout 2016. Houdet still expects a battle from his arch-rival.

“He is the best player ever in wheelchair tennis, so even if he didn't play that much he will be a huge opponent for anyone,” Houdet said.

“I really hope he will be back and able to defend his last two gold medals. I think wheelchair tennis owes him a lot.”

Of course, Houdet will not give it to Kunieda easily.

The Frenchman has faced Kunieda many times throughout his career, including the London 2012 Paralympics, where Houdet claimed a silver medal in the singles after losing out to the Japanese star.

In 2008, Houdet won gold in the doubles before the silver singles medal four years later. Now eight years since his first Paralympics, Houdet hopes for more medals this time round.

“There is hope for another gold, and maybe even two with the singles and the doubles. But it's better to focus on what you have to do than on a potential result,” Houdet said.

Wheelchair tennis events get underway in Rio on Friday, 9 September.


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.

Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.