Japan's wheelchair tennis sensation Oda takes Grand Slam tally to four at French Open

Tokito Oda won successfully defended his men's wheelchair tennis singles crown at Roland Garros, while Dutch star Diede de Groot won her 14th straight Grand Slam singles title. Guy Sasson won the quad wheelchair tennis singles tournament in his French Open debut 10 Jun 2024
A male wheelchair tennis player poses for a photo after winning the 2024 French Open
Oda is set to make his Paralympic debut at the Paris 2024 Games, which open on 28 August.
ⒸClive Brunskill/Getty Images

A year on from realising his dream to lift his first Grand Slam title, Japan’s Tokito Oda successfully defended his men’s wheelchair tennis singles crown in Paris, defeating fellow two-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Fernandez 7-5, 6-3 in the final on Saturday (8 June 2024).

In the women’s singles tournament, Dutch great Diede de Groot secured her 14th consecutive Grand Slam singles title by defeating China’s Zhu Zhenzhen 4-6, 6-2 6-3. Guy Sasson won the quad wheelchair singles tournament in his debut appearance at Roland Garros.

The clay courts of Roland Garros will play host to wheelchair tennis competitions at the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, which open in less than 100 days.


Oda defends crown in Paris

Oda, who is world No. 2 in the rankings, has now won four of the last five majors stretching back to Roland Garros last year. He has already qualified for the Paris 2024 Paralympics by winning the men’s singles tournament at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games.

“It's really amazing, because this tournament is so special for me. To come back for special moments, it’s a special place,” the 18-year-old Oda said.

Oda is clearly enraptured by the French capital, even affixing the message ‘je t’aime Paris’, ‘I love you, Paris’ to his racket bag. “I love this city, so I wanted to show my feeling,” he explained of the gesture.

Despite losing the final, it was a positive tournament for Fernandez, who reached his first Grand Slam final since 2022 Roland Garros. The Argentine suffered a tough 2023 season that culminated in his decision to miss the Australian Open to protect his health earlier this year, his first time missing a Slam since making his major debut at the 2013 Australian Open.

In the wheelchair men’s doubles, No. 1 seeds Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid defeated Oda and Takuya Miki 6-1, 6-4 to capture their fifth Roland Garros title as a pairing. Their 20th Grand Slam title overall, the victory means that the Brits are now the joint most successful doubles partnership in terms of major titles won in the Open Era, in any tennis category, equalling Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver on the tally.

“There’s no one else I'd rather play doubles with, clearly. Don't quote that,” Hewett said of playing with Reid, laughing. “It wasn't something I was aware of going into the match. But it's certainly a proud moment for us as a partnership, and everyone that's helped us get there. It's really fun to get out there and play with Gordon. The success is just getting more enjoyable every single time.”

“We're going to keep striving for more success,” Hewett continued. “Obviously there's one thing we haven't quite got as a partnership yet, but today certainly helps give us a bit of a boost and confidence going into it.”

That one thing missing from Hewett and Reid’s accolades is a Paralympic doubles gold medal, having won silver at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. The duo will certainly be looking to rectify that when they return to Paris in August.

“It's exciting, as Alfie said, to do well here this week,” Reid added. “Obviously leading into a couple months' time.”


De Groot wins 22nd Grand Slam

Diede de Groot may have been beaten for the first time in more than three years last month, but remains untouchable at Grand Slams after securing her 14th consecutive Grand Slam singles title.

This 22nd Grand Slam singles title means de Groot surpasses compatriot and wheelchair tennis legend Esther Vergeer’s record of 21 wheelchair women’s singles major crowns. While incredibly impressive, the 27-year-old was quick to contextualise the milestone.

“I’m really proud to now have this record be mine,” she admitted. “But at the same time, I know the conditions when Esther played. She couldn’t play singles at Wimbledon, a lot of the Grand Slams weren’t even called Grand Slams yet. So it’s not really much of a comparison. For me, we are together at the top, not one better than the other.”

De Groot beat China’s Zhu Zhenzhen 4-6, 6-2 6-3 in the women's singles final. @Tim Goode/Getty Images

Having claimed a fourth successive Roland Garros singles crown, de Groot then partnered compatriot Aniek van Koot to complete the women’s wheelchair double, defeating Yui Kamiji and Kgothatso Montjane 6-7(6) 7-6(2) [10-4] to take her major doubles tally to 19 and her overall haul to 41.

Looking ahead, de Groot will look to claim a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title, before returning to Paris to put up her Paralympic gold defence in both the singles and doubles. Despite yet another successful Slam campaign, the world No. 1 believes she still has plenty to improve upon.

“I'm not actually sure today will give me a lot of confidence. It wasn't my best match, but just coming out here, already playing at Chatrier, which is going to be one of the main courts for us at the Paralympics, is very good, getting to know what it looks like.

There were a lot of people watching us, and they were really engaged into the game, so that was really good to feel.”


Sasson surges to new heights

Guy Sasson has capped his debut appearance at Roland Garros with his first Grand Slam title, defeating Dutchman Sam Schroder 6-2 3-6 7-6(7) in the quad wheelchair tennis final that lasted nearly three hours. 

“Well, it's a huge win, it was really a thriller. I'm so happy that at the end of the day it came my way.  It cannot be any sweeter than that,” the 44-year-old Sasson said upon winning the trophy.

The win saw Sasson overturn the result he suffered against Schroder in his first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open earlier this year, where he lost 6-3 6-3. He has now become the third Israeli man ever to win a Grand Slam title in any discipline, after Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram won the 2008 Australian Open men’s doubles title, and Ram won two mixed doubles Grand Slam titles.

For Schroder, it is once again so close yet so far. He has now lost four consecutive Roland Garros singles finals to three different players – Dylan Alcott in 2021, Niels Vink in 2022 and 2023, and Sasson this year.

The final set match tiebreak provided plenty of tension, drama, and even a moment of levity as Sasson celebrated too early. Forgetting that the match tiebreak was played to 10 points, Sasson believed he had captured the title up 7-5 in the breaker, and reacted as such.

“Yeah it was a huge embarrassment,” Sasson said chuckling. “But I think it helped me, because I think so much air came out at 7-5. My coach and I laughed about it, and I think a lot of stress came out. I don't want to think what would have happened if I had lost the match from there.”

Sasson’s attention now turns to another new experience in his near future, a debut on the grass at Wimbledon, before turning back to Paris for his debut at the Paralympics.

“When my team and I are looking at this process of where we want to be or we want to get to, we're looking at the end of the Paralympics,” Sasson added. “After the Paralympics, we will rest.”

Schroder won the quad doubles final alongside Vink, defeating Sasson and his partner Andy Lapthorne 7-6(9) 6-1. Schroder has now won eight Grand Slam doubles titles, and Vink seven, all with Schroder. It is their second triumph as a team at Roland Garros, having won on the clay in 2022.


Discover more about wheelchair tennis at the Paris 2024 Paralympics