Diede De Groot took the first step towards collecting the one wheelchair tennis Grand Slam title missing from her resume on Thursday, racing to a 6-1, 6-0 win over South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane at Roland Garros.
The Dutch top seed needed just 48 minutes to set up a semi-final showdown with compatriot Aniek van Koot.
“The first round is always a bit nervous,” said De Groot. “You still have to get into the tournament, you have to start feeling how the court’s playing. Up until this match I haven’t played at Roland Garros at all – we’ve been training at Jean Bouin because of the weather.”
Easing through her first test, the 22-year-old is two wins away from the one singles major missing from her collection, having completed her doubles career Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January.
“I’ve definitely noticed it’s on everyone else’s mind,” joked De Groot, who lost out to Japan’s Yui Kamiji in last year’s Roland Garros final. “I’ve been asked a lot about it. But really, I’m just trying to play well. Last year I feel like I played well except from one set up in the final. We’ll see where it goes in this tournament – and there are a lot more tournaments coming, too.”
Van Koot booked her spot in the semi-finals with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Germany’s Sabine Ellerbrock, while Kamiji met greater resistance against Roland Garros debutant Giulia Capocci of Italy, winning 6-4, 6-2.
The Japanese will now face Dutchwoman Marjolein Buis, a 6-1, 6-0 winner over French wild card Charlotte Famin.
Hewett closing in on top form in Paris
Fresh from a singles clean sweep as Great Britain triumphed at the World Team Cup last month, Alfie Hewett claimed his first Grand Slam match win since his 2018 US Open title, hitting back from 5-2 down in the second set to beat French No. 3 seed Stephane Houdet 6-2, 7-6 (4).
It was a welcome return to form at the Grand Slams for the 2017 Roland Garros champion, who had been searching for his top form since taking a break from the sport after his triumph in New York.
“I think it’s on its way,” said Hewett. “I expected it just to come back in Australia but that wasn’t the case. It’s been a slow progression since then, but it’s on its way.”
Up next for Hewett is a repeat of the 2017 Roland Garros final against Argentina’s No. 2 seed Gustavo Fernandez, who fought back from a set down to beat long-time Swedish rival Stefan Olsson 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.
It was a tough day for the French contingent in action as France’s Nicolas Peifer lost 6-2 6-4 to top seed and defending champion Shingo Kunieda.
Japan’s 35-year-old will now play against Brit Gordon Reid, who turned the tables on Belgian Joachim Gerard in the day’s longest wheelchair tennis match, coming through 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in 98 minutes.