Host-nation hero Shingo Kunieda of Japan clinched the fourth gold medal of his career as he defeated Tom Egberink of Netherlands in two sets in the men’s singles on Saturday (September 4), the last day of the wheelchair tennis tournament at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“It’s a dream because after Rio I had an injury and I thought many times of retiring. So I can’t believe it," said Kunieda, 37, who also won gold medals at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Athens 2004.
“After Rio I trained a lot, I overcame my injury. I have to appreciate my coach and my wife. There are no spectators, but there is a lot of staff here supporting me and it was very encouraging.”
Rio 2016 champion Gordon Reid of Great Britain completed the podium in third place after beating his doubles partner Alfie Hewett in a rematch of the Rio 2016 final.
"It was the most difficult match I had ever played in my life,” Reid told the Olympic Information Service. "After losing semi-finals and then also losing the doubles final last night, in physically and emotionally exhausting matches, it was difficult for us to be pumped up for this match."
In the singles quad division, Dylan Alcott of Australia retained his Rio 2016 title in a two-set win over Paralympic debutant Sam Schroder of Netherlands.
The 30-year-old Aussie is on a quest to become the first male tennis player to complete a Golden Slam (four Grand Slam victories and a Paralympic gold medal in the same season), with only one title missing - the US Open which has just started.
“I’ll think about it when I get to New York, now I want to enjoy this moment, I'm a Paralympic champion for the fourth time, it’s incredible stuff," said Alcott, who took gold at Rio 2016 in singles and doubles, having also won gold at Beijing 2008 in wheelchair basketball.
In the women’s doubles, Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot maintained Dutch supremacy as they defeated Jordanne Whiley and Lucy Shuker (GBR). The Netherlands have won all 16 gold medals in women’s singles and doubles since tennis was introduced to the Paralympic programme in 1992.
The day before, de Groot clinched gold in the singles against Yui Kamiji, who was also back on centre court on Saturday to claim bronze in doubles alongside Momoko Ohtani.
“I couldn’t sleep last night because I was frustrated," said Kamiji about her loss to de Groot.
“I knew I had to be in a different mindset today because it was Momoko’s first Paralympic medal match. I didn’t want to ruin her experience.”