Vergeer wins her 4th Paralympic gold

Dutch wheelchair tennis sensation Esther Vergeer topped her compatrior Aniek van Koot for wheelchair tennis singles gold. 07 Sep 2012
Esther Vergeer

Esther Vergeer won gold in the women's wheelchair tennis singles competition on Day 8 of London 2012.

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"Everybody expected me to win gold and that I would win but I still had to work hard, to go to training, to be at the top of my game. A lot of people forget that."

Esther Vergeer of Netherlands won her fourth overall and third successive Paralympic Games wheelchair tennis women’s singles gold medal on Friday (7 September), beating compatriot Aniek van Koot, 6-0, 6-3 in the final.

The win is Vergeer’s 470th successive victory in women’s wheelchair tennis singles - a streak stretching back to January 2003.

Vergeer said winning her fourth Paralympic singles title is something she has dreamt about.

“Everyone was talking about it and I just made it happen,” she said.

"Everybody expected me to win gold and that I would win but I still had to work hard, to go to training, to be at the top of my game. A lot of people forget that."

Not surprisingly, Vergeer is the world No. 1. She is so good that she dismantled the second best player in the world van Koot. Neither player had lost a set before the final, although Vergeer had only lost four games, compared to van Koot’s 18 games conceded.

In the final, Vergeer won the toss and elected to receive service.

Why did she do this?

“I knew that I was nervous and I know that when I’m nervous my serve doesn’t really roll,” she said.

Vergeer won the game without van Koot scoring a point.

Van Koot, though, did take advantage of Vergeer’s early service nerves and earned a break point in the second game of the match. Vergeer found composure, however, snapping a sharp cross-court backhand to win the point.

Van Koot had another break point soon after, but again, Vergeer found a way to win the game to take a 2-0 lead in the first set.

The No. 2 seed said that she was thinking she needed to take her chance at that point or she may not get another one.

“That’s the thing when you play someone like her, you need to take every chance you get, you need to just get the game otherwise you know it’s going to be hard for the next game,” she said.

Then, all of a sudden, Vergeer had won the first set 6-0, needing just 23 minutes to do so.

Van Koot did not play poorly, not by any stretch, often taking it right up to the world’s best player.

But Vergeer is just better, and simply, too good at what she does.

Every time van Koot looked like taking something away from Vergeer, the world No. 1 prevailed, either through a winner of her own or an error from van Koot.

Van Koot did win a game, and then another, winning the fifth and sixth games of the second set. But that only seemed to stir the indomitable Vergeer, who then broke van Koot to love to take a 5-2 lead in the set.

Despite this, van Koot found a little more, breaking Vergeer in the very next game. But it was a case of too-little-too-late, with Vergeer taking the set 6-3 and the match in straight sets to win her fourth successive Paralympic Games women’s singles gold medal.

Vergeer is peerless right now in wheelchair tennis, maybe even in any sport in the world.

She does not take her success for granted but says the 470 successive wins is not all that important to her.

“I usually don’t even know the number of the streak,” she said.

“It doesn’t really bother me but it doesn’t really motivate me especially.”

Vergeer is now the only wheelchair tennis player to have won four Paralympic Games gold medals in one form of the game. While she says she still loves the sport, she is unsure how much longer she will keep competing.

“I’ve been thinking about this question a lot before going into this Paralympic Games, whether I continue or retire,” she said.

“I haven’t made a decision yet, I like the game, I love the game of tennis so I will continue to play tennis, but for how long I have no clue.”

This is something her opponents may take heart from, or further pain, but Vergeer says they should not give up just yet.

“I know the day that I will lose will come, I don’t know when and it depends on the other girls I think,” she said.