"Vergeer, currently unbeaten in 454 matches will play her first Roland Garros in the new tennis wheelchair she debuted at the Pensacola Open in the USA in the spring."
World No. 1 players Maikel Scheffers and Esther Vergeer will hope to take home both singles titles for the Netherlands at Roland Garros, which kicks off on Wednesday (6 June).
The event, which is part of the NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour, will feature eight of the world’s leading men’s and women’s players.
Houdet could topple Scheffers in men’s
Scheffers won his first Grand Slam men’s singles title in Paris in 2011, having beaten defending champion Shingo Kunieda of Japan in the semi-finals and the Dutchman ended the year by toppling Kunieda from his four-year reign as ITF World Champion, despite the Japanese player retaining his US Open title in New York.
However, Kunieda’s season ended early due to an elbow injury, and in the Japanese player’s absence Scheffers also won the Australian Open in January.
Kunieda’s best form would undoubtedly put him in with a strong chance of regaining the title, but he has recently dropped to world No. 5 after losing to world No. 2 Stephane Houdet in the semifinals of the Japan Open.
Meanwhile, Houdet is one of four Frenchmen in the men’s field of eight who will hope to impress in front of their home crowd at Roland Garros.
Houdet, who is within striking distance of overtaking Scheffers as world No. 1 depending on results at Roland Garros, and along with his compatriot Michael Jeremiasz, he has beaten the Dutchman on more than one occasion this season, while Nicolas Peifer was runner-up to Scheffers at Roland Garros last year and in this year’s Australian Open.
Meanwhile, Ronald Vink has also beaten Scheffers in 2012 and together with Robin Ammerlaan they form a trio of Dutchmen challenging Kunieda and the quartet of Frenchmen, which includes the wild card entry and Roland Garros debutant Frederic Cattaneo.
While four of the eight men’s entries are French, the Dutch presence in the women’s field is even stronger, with wild card entry and 2010 Roland Garros runner-up Sharon Walraven lining up alongside four of her compatriots who currently fill the top four places in the world rankings.
Vergeer will be the overwhelming favourite to win her sixth Roland Garros title and world No. 2 Aniek van Koot, world No. 3 Marjolein Buis and world No. 4 Jiske Griffioen could be among her strongest challengers, as well as competing with each other to try and ensure an all-Dutch final, as Buis did in 2011.
Vergeer, currently unbeaten in 454 matches will play her first Roland Garros in the new tennis wheelchair she debuted at the Pensacola Open in the USA in the spring. Her first tournament in the new chair saw her drop her first set of tennis to van Koot in the final, but the following week she eased to straight sets wins over Griffioen and Buis en route to winning the Florida Open.
Buis reached her first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros in 2011, when she became the first opponent in five successive Grand Slam finals that Vergeer had not beaten 6-0 6-0. Meanwhile, van Koot went on to finish runner-up to Vergeer at the US Open and the Australian Open.
If an all-Dutch final is to be avoided, then either Sabine Ellerbrock of Germany, Annick Sevenans of Belgium or Yui Kamiji of Japan will need to reach their first Grand Slam final.
Ellerbrock has a fine record against Buis, should they be drawn in the same half of the draw, and a win over van Koot on her record. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Kamiji, currently the world No. 1 ranked junior, has beaten Griffioen this season.
Sevenans has beaten Buis, Griffioen and van Koot in the past, but doing it at a Grand Slam, where Dutch players have such a fine record, provides a different challenge.
The 2012 NEC Wheelchair Tennis Tour started on January 5, 2012, with the Queensland Open in Australia. This year, the NEC Tour consists of 173 tournaments in 45 countries.
The NEC Wheelchair Tennis Rankings are updated weekly by the ITF, with over 600 men, 200 women and 75 quad players from over 50 countries featured on the current wheelchair world rankings.
Maikel Scheffers (NED) (1)
Stephane Houdet (FRA) (2)
Shingo Kunieda (JPN) (3)
Ronald Vink (NED) (4)
Nicolas Peifer (FRA) (5)
Michael Jeremiasz (FRA) (6)
Robin Ammerlaan (NED) (7)
Frederic Cattaneo (FRA) (11) (WC)
Esther Vergeer (NED) (1)
Aniek van Koot (NED) (2)
Jiske Griffioen (NED) (3)
Marjolein Buis (NED) (4)
Sabine Ellerbrock (GER) (5)
Annick Sevenans (BEL) (6)
Yui Kamiji (JPN) (7)
Sharon Walraven (NED) (9) (WC)