Kunieda targeting ninth US Open and calendar Grand Slam history

• Diede de Groot on a quest for her fifth successive US Open title with the added challenge of the expanded draw • Wagner, Lapthorne, Schroder eager to reclaim quad singles title following Alcott's retirement 06 Sep 2022
A closeup of a male tennis player as he plays a backhand during a wheelchair tennis tournament.
A victory at the US Open would make Japan's Shingo Kunieda the first men’s wheelchair player to complete the calendar Grand Slam.
ⒸRyan Pierse/Getty Images

A year ago this week Shingo Kunieda’s historic third Paralympic men’s singles gold medal preceded an eighth US Open men’s singles crown just days later, beginning an unprecedented chain of success that also includes his first Wimbledon title in July.

Now a 50-time champion at the majors, Kunieda arrives at the US Open this week as the first men’s wheelchair player to have completed a career Grand Slam following his Wimbledon triumph, but a ninth singles title in New York would see the world No. 1 go one step further and become the first men’s wheelchair player to complete the calendar Grand Slam.

The wheelchair tennis tournament of the US Open takes place from 7 to 11 September.

Challenging Kunieda's winning streak

Reigning champion Kunieda will face 2021 Wimbledon champion Joachim Gerard on Wednesday after the first Grand Slam men’s wheelchair draw to feature 16 players was made on Monday in New York, with second seed and two-time US Open champion Alfie Hewett drawn to play former Australian Open and Roland Garros champion Maikel Scheffers.

The remaining first round matches include a fascinating match-up between Gordon Reid and Martin de la Puente after De La Puente beat Reid for the first time in July’s British Open semi-finals, while world No.3 Gustavo Fernandez faces Japan’s Takuya Miki.

The expanded draw, which has gone from eight to 16 players, naturally includes players who will make their Grand Slam debuts, including Dutchman Ruben Spaargaren and Chile’s Alexander Cataldo, while former world No. 1 Scheffers will make his first Grand Slam appearance since 2017 and Miki will contest a major for the first time since Roland Garros in 2014.

De Groot eyeing fifth US Open title

Twelve months on from becoming the first women’s wheelchair player to complete a Golden Slam, Diede de Groot begins her quest for a fifth successive US Open title with a first round match against Britain’s Lucy Shuker, while second seed and two-time champion Yui Kamiji takes on Macarena Cabrillana, one of the players who will be making their US Open debuts.

On a roll of honour that is dominated by Esther Vergeer and De Groot, the only other former Dutch champion in New York is 2013 winner Aniek van Koot, who will begin her latest title bid in New York against world No. 10 Dana Mathewson. The US player is contesting her home Grand Slam for the sixth successive year.

Among those who are making their Grand Slam debuts, Manami Tanaka and Shiori Funamizu go-head-to-head in a fascinating all-Japanese match-up, while Pauline Deroulede of France will contest one of the four majors for the first time with a little over 720 days to go until the start of the Paris 2024 Paralympics.

USA's Dana Mathewson competed at Wimbledon in July 2022 and will contest the US Open for the sixth consecutive year. @Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Deroulede will face Katharina Kruger as Germany’s former world No. 6 plays her first Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2018.

One of five Japanese players in the women’s singles draw, Momoko Ohtani will face Colombia’s Angelica Bernal for just the second time in their careers, while Ohtani’s countrywoman Saki Takamuro makes her Grand Slam debut against 2021 Wimbledon finalist Kgothatso Montjane.   

The US Open singles title is the only Grand Slam title to have yet eluded Jiske Griffioen, who has returned to the majors this year for the first time since 2017. The former world No.1 will play Chinese fourth seed Zhenzhen Zhu in her first match in New York since 2015.  

Vink and Schroder head all-star cast in quad singles

Three-time champion David Wagner, two-time champion Andy Lapthorne and 2020 champion Sam Schroder all return to New York in a bid to reclaim the quad singles title after Dylan Alcott’s last US Open appearance resulted in him joining De Groot in completing the Golden Slam in 2021.

In doing so Alcott denied Niels Vink a title-winning debut in New York – a debut that had started with an opening victory over fellow Dutchman Schroder, who made his own dream debut in 2020 after beating Alcott in the final.

Robert Shaw of Canada is making his Grand Slam debut at this year's US Open. @Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for Tennis Foundation

Two years later Schroder returns to New York as a three-time Grand Slam champion, having added this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon titles to his list of achievements, while Vink returns as world No. 1.

By his own admission, Vink was not at his best when losing to Schroder in July’s Wimbledon final but after a holiday the 19-year-old faces Grand Slam debutant Robert Shaw of Canada on his return to New York.

Shaw is the only player in this year’s quad singles field to be making his Grand Slam debut, while South African Donald Ramphadi completes a full-house of Grand Slam appearances when he plays Koji Sugeno in a bid to win his first singles match at one of the majors.

With five US Open quad singles titles between them, Lapthorne and Wagner will contest a fascinating quarter-final, while Schroder will hope to resume winning ways in New York when he faces recent British Open finalist Heath Davidson.