"I just want to be a better player than other players, and I wish that the eventual result is No. 1.”
After becoming Australian Open singles champion for the first time and the second non-Dutch player to do so, Yui Kamiji has set her sights on greater things.
The 22-year-old from Akashi, Japan, claimed the first Grand Slam title of the year in Australia after defeating current world No. 1 Jiske Griffioen in the final 6-7(2), 6-3, 6-3 at the end of January.
Due to the dominance of the Dutch wheelchair tennis stars, Kamiji became only the second non-Dutch wheelchair tennis player to win the Australian Open after Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock defeated the Japanese star in the 2014 final.
After the 2014 loss to Ellerbrock, Kamiji went on to reach the final 12 months later. But she could not defeat Griffioen. Therefore, she was ecstatic to overcome one of her arch rivals to claim the first singles Grand Slam of 2017.
“This title is special for me because the Australian Open was my debut Grand Slam tournament in 2012 and I already won it three times in doubles but not in singles yet, so I really wanted it,” explained Kamiji.
“I was very happy and excited to beat Jiske.”
The Netherlands’ domination of women’s wheelchair tennis has continued since the turn of the millennium with several youngsters breaking into the top 10 the rankings. So for Kamiji it will be a continued battle against the Dutch players to reach the top spot.
“They [Netherlands] have a very long history in women’s wheelchair tennis. I think it really helps them and also it has an influence on the young players.
“I want to be world No. 1 again but the ranking is not too important for me. I just want to be a better player than other players, and I wish that the eventual result is No. 1.”