Wheelchair tennis: China stun Netherlands for second World Team Cup title

China's Xiaohui Li ended the 145-match winning streak of world No.1 and reigning Paralympic champion Diede de Groot at the BNP Paribas World Team Cup 14 May 2024
Four female wheelchair tennis athletes pose for a photograph. They are holding a silver trophy.
China beat the Netherlands 2-0 at the World Team Cup, which concluded on 12 May.
By ITF and IPC

China sent shockwaves through the world of Para sport after earning a 2-0 victory over 33-time champions and top seeds Netherlands to lift the BNP Paribas World Team Cup Women’s World Group title for the second time.

Xiaohui Li ended the 145-match winning streak of world No.1 and reigning Paralympic champion Diede de Groot, claiming an incredible 6-3, 6-2 victory in Antalya, Turkey. 

Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid steered Great Britain to a fourth men’s World Group title in nine years. In the quad tournament, Chile completed a memorable debut, after the top seeds earned a 2-1 victory over host nation Turkiye. 

The BNP Paribas World Team Cup, which took place between 7 and 12 May, is the only team wheelchair tennis event leading up to the Paris 2024 Paralympics, which will open on 28 August. Fourty-four teams, representing 21 countries, competed in the event at the Megasaray Tennis Academy in Antalya. 


China stun the Netherlands for second title

Having also beaten Netherlands 2-0 in the 2017 final in Sardinia to become the first nation from the continent of Asia to lift the women’s World Group title, the Chinese team fielded two completely different players for this year’s final. 

Ziying Wang defeated world No. 4 Aniek van Koot 6-1 6-3 before Li earned a remarkable 6-3,6-2 victory over de Groot on Saturday, 11 May. 

“I was calm on the court and followed our coach’s plan,” said Li, who is only in her second full season on the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour after winning nine singles titles in 2023. “After the match, I am now very emotional, but I managed to stay calm on the court. 

“Winning the gold medal is really important for the Chinese team,” she added. “I’m very proud to be a part of our team winning the title again after seven years and this gives me so much confidence heading towards the Paralympic Games. To beat the number one player is great.” 

This year’s Melbourne Open was also the first career meeting between Li and De Groot and the Chinese player took it to three sets. That was possibly a sign of bigger things to come and Li’s backhand proved particularly potent against De Groot in their third career meeting. 

De Groot saved three set points in the opening set as she desperately tried to rescue the Dutch title defence, but she was not helped by a collection of double faults that tipped into double figures. The end of De Groot’s winning streak dating back to the start of the 2021 Australian Open understandably brought a flood of emotions that directly contrasted with the joy within the Chinese team. 

Taking to social media to address her loss, De Groot explained: 

"For 3.5 years I have been strong, resilient and I kept my nerves under control. (On) Saturday my opponent simply played a better match. I was beaten. which in tennis can happen at any given day. Of course, (it brings) big feelings. But there is no change in my power, my resilience and my will to win. It's actually that simple." 

France sealed their second BNP Paribas World Team Cup bronze medal in successive years after beating Morocco 3-0, giving 18-year-old Ksenia Chasteau a first World Team Cup medal in her first year as a senior women's player. 


Great Britain lift fourth men’s title 

Great Britain celebrated their fourth men’s title with a 2-0 victory over Spain on Sunday, 12 May. 

Great Britain pulled off a 2-0 win over Spain.  @ITF

"We are delighted to get a fourth World Team Cup trophy. Playing for your country is a big deal and it's one of the standout events in the year,” said world No. 1 Hewett after wrapping up the victory, having won eight of the of the last nine games in a 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Martin de la Puente in the second singles match.  

“To get another win is a great feeling and it's been a really good team atmosphere. Ben (Bartram) and Dahnon (Ward) played their parts this week (with wins during the group stage) and today me and Gordon were able to bring home the title." 

Hewett made a slow start against world No. 4 De la Puente, who fired a succession of winners past Hewett during the opening set. But, as the second set neared its end, Hewett was able to raise his game.    

"I struggled with a little bit of intensity and energy in the first set. but what I did really well was keeping in there and taking my opportunities when they came." 

Reid opened a memorable day for the Brits by stretching his unbeaten winning streak against Daniel Caverzaschi to seven matches, earning a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 victory. Spain took the men's silver medal for the third time since 2021. 

While it was the fourth World Team Cup men's title for Hewett and Reid as Great Britain retained the title they won in Vilamoura, Portugal, last year, it was a second successive gold medal for Bartram and a first for Ward after a succession of silver medals in the junior event. 


Chile beat Turkiye in World Cup debut

Chile's Francisco Cayulef and Diego Perez beat Ali Ataman and Ahmet Kaplan of Turkiye 6-4 6-3 in their quad World Group debut. 

Chile had a memorable World Team Cup debut. @ITF

Two relatively one-sided singles matches saw world No. 10 Cayulef claim the last 10 games in a 6-2, 6-0 victory over world No. 16 Ugur Altinel. 

However, Kaplan, who started World Team Cup week at a career-best world No.11, gave the enthusiastic local fans plenty to cheer as he levelled the tie with a 6-1 6-1 victory over world No. 9 Diego Perez after 62 minutes. 


Hundred days until Paris 2024

The Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, which will open in just over 100 days, will feature up to 96 wheelchair tennis players competing at the iconic Roland Garros Stadium, the venue of the French Open.

Most of the qualification slots will be given out based on the Wheelchair Tennis Singles World Ranking List that will be released on 15 July. Several athletes have already booked their tickets by winning the men’s or women’s singles at one of the four Regional Games last year.

There will be six medal events at the Paris 2024 Paralympics. @Paris 2024