Sydney Super Series kicks off wheelchair tennis seasonHewett, de Groot and Wagner among top contenders at first major event of 2018 08 Jan 2018
Still fresh from winning the 2017 Singles Masters titles, Alfie Hewett, Diede de Groot and David Wagner will be among the leading contenders for the men’s, women’s and quad titles at the Sydney International Open, from 9-13 January.
The first Super Series event of 2018 will introduce the Blacktown Tennis Centre as a new venue for the tournament while all three singles finals again take place at the Sydney Olympic Park as the event is part-integrated with the Sydney International ATP and WTA World Tour events.
After both starting last season ranked outside the world’s top five, current men’s and women’s world No. 2s Hewett and de Groot were runners-up in Sydney last year and will hope to begin 2018 by going one better.
In 2017, Great Britain’s player lost his first Super Series singles final to Frenchman Nicolas Peifer, who will bid for a hat-trick of titles.
There were five different male winners of the six Super Series men’s singles titles last year, with only Argentina’s world No.1 Gustavo Fernandez winning two titles at Super Series level as Peifer, Stephane Houdet, Gordon Reid and Stefan Olsson also proved victorious.
All of them will also compete in Sydney, with Olsson having missed last year’s Australian Super Series due to the impending birth of his first son.
The Netherlands’ De Groot finished runner-up to compatriot Jiske Griffioen in last year’s women’s singles, but with Griffioen having since retired, de Groot’s biggest challenge may well come from Singles Masters finalist Yui Kamiji.
Japan’s world No.1 won the Sydney title in 2014 and is the only player apart from Griffioen to have won the crown in the last five years, but she lost out to de Groot in last year’s semifinals as de Groot clinched the first of three 2017 wins over Kamiji.
Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot will join de Groot among the entries to add to the Dutch challenge.
Four players – Wagner, Dylan Alcott, Lucas Sithole and Andy Lapthorne - shared the six Super Series quad singles titles between them last season, with Alcott and Wagner winning two apiece.
USA’s world No. 1 Wagner heads the challengers to Alcott’s bid for a fourth straight title in Sydney. While Lapthorne is due to begin his season at the Melbourne Open the following week, Sithole should also be among the leading contenders at the first Super Series.