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Paralympic Sports: Wheelchair Tennis

Sport Week: Ones to watch in wheelchair tennis

Here are the ones battling for the podium at Rio 2016. 09 Apr 2016
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Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina

Gustavo Fernandez of Argentina in action in his match against Shingo Kunieda of Japan in Men's Wheelchair Singles - Semifinals during the Australian Open 2015 Wheelchair Championships

ⒸGetty Images
By Andrew Cross | For the IPC

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on paralympic.org. Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.

In the men’s wheelchair tennis division, two players have battled over the medals for the past two Paralympics.

However, in the women’s division a new champion will be born after the retirement of the incomparable Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands in 2013.

Here are the ones to watch for at Rio 2016.

MEN

Shingo Kunieda (JPN)

The current world number two in the singles has played in every Paralympics from Athens in 2004, through to Beijing, London and is set to play in his fourth Games in Rio in just over five months time.

Kunieda holds the singles title from London and Beijing and will be looking for a third successive singles gold medal in Rio.

The Japanese star has not lost a set in the singles division of a Paralympics since being beaten by Australian David Hall in 2004.

Stephane Houdet (FRA)

Trying to stop Kunieda on his way to another gold medal will be Frenchman Houdet. Currently ranked the world’s best male wheelchair tennis player, Houdet will be looking to avenge the singles final of 2012.

The 45-year-old lost 6-4 6-2 to Kunieda four years ago. The right-hander has won one gold medal, after joining forces with Michael Jeremiasz to win the doubles title at Beijing in 2008.

Gordon Reid (GBR)

Reid may not have reached a Paralympic final, but the 24-year-old has had a brilliant 12 months, reaching six of a possible nine Grand Slam finals, including this year’s Australian Open.

Reid, born in Scotland, claimed his first singles Grand Slam title by beating Belgium’s Joachim Gerard 7-6(7) 6-4 in January’s Australian Open final.

The left-hander is the current defending doubles champion at Roland Garros, US Open and the Masters. He was also part of the winning team at the World Team Cup last year.

David Wagner (USA)

Rio 2016 will be Wagner’s fourth Paralympic Games, having made his debut in Athens in 2004.

In his three previous Games, the US player has won three gold medals in the quad division – all in doubles.

At London 2012 he won doubles gold with compatriot Nicholas Taylor, but suffered a shocking loss in the singles final to Israel’s Noam Gershony. At Rio 2016 he will be hunting for his first singles gold and his fourth doubles title.

Dylan Alcott (AUS)

In 2015, Alcott won both the Australian and US Opens, defeating Wagner each time.

His Grand Slam success combined with a number of other tournament wins has seen the Australian overtake Wagner to become the world No. 1, an impressive achievement for a former world junior No. 4 tennis player. A former wheelchair basketball player, Rio 2016 would be Alcott’s first in wheelchair tennis.

Gustavo Fernandez (ARG)

Since making his breakthrough as a 17-year-old with singles gold at the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan American Games, Fernandez has been consistently ranked amongst the world’s best players.

Over the last four years, Fernandez has won a number of individual singles titles and arguably his most successful year was in 2014 when he finished runner-up at the Australian Open and US Open.

At London 2012, he lost in three sets in the quarter-finals to France’s Houdet, who eventually went on to win silver.

WOMEN

Jiske Griffioen (NED)

Griffioen has won a silver medal at the past two Paralympics, and with Esther Vergeer retired this could be the year for the fellow Dutch star.

The 30-year-old kicked off 2016 by winning the singles Grand Slam at the Australian Open, after ending 2015 by taking the doubles and singles Masters titles.

Griffioen is the defending champion for both titles at Roland Garros, as well as the doubles title at the US Open.

Aniek van Koot (NED)

Aiming to stop Griffioen will be fellow Dutch star and regular playing partner, Van Koot.

Van Koot is the current doubles Masters, US Open and Roland Garros holder alongside Griffioen.

The world No. 3 has only featured in one Paralympics, however, she claimed a silver in both the singles and doubles four years ago at London.

Jordanne Whiley (GBR)

The 23-year-old featured at the Beijing Paralympics when she was 16 and at London four years later where she took bronze in the doubles. Now a little older, Whiley has developed into one of the best doubles player on the tour.

Since January 2014, Whiley has won seven Grand Slams, including last year’s maiden singles title at the US Open.

Another Paralympic medal, either singles or doubles, would be no surprise the budding star.

Yui Kamiji (JPN)

In her Paralympic debut at the London 2012 Games, Kamiji competed in singles and doubles, making it to the singles quarter-finals but is aiming to go farther at Rio 2016.

Her biggest year came after London in 2014, when she won two singles Grand Slam titles and completed the doubles Grand Slam with partner Whiley.

She won her first singles title at the Roland Garros in 2014, which propelled her to the world No. 1 spot. Currently, she is No. 2 behind Griffioen.

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Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.