“The grass court season suits me really well and since the first time I played on it I have absolutely loved it!”
Rematches of the three Grand Slam finals from the last 12 months will highlight the first day of wheelchair tennis competition at Wimbledon on Thursday (12 July).
One year on from winning her first career Grand Slam women’s singles title on the world-famous grass courts at the All England Club, world No.1 Diede de Groot will play world No. 4 Sabine Ellerbrock for a place in the semi-finals. The Dutch and German rivals have met in four previous Grand Slam contests, including last year’s Wimbledon final, with de Groot the victor on three occasions.
“Last year I was the underdog and it was my first time on grass. I just wanted to enjoy my time there and play some good tennis,” said De Groot.
“This year that’s different, I am defending champion and number one seed. My goal is still the same though, enjoy my time there and play some good tennis.”
De Groot and Ellerbrock are joined in the top half of the women’s singles draw by Germany’s Katharina Kruger and South African wild card entry and Wimbledon debutant Kgothatso Montjane.
De Groot's countrywomen Marjolein Buis and Aniek van Koot could yet meet each other in the semi-finals. For that to happen, Buis will need to defeat Japan’s world No. 2 Yui Kamiji and Van Koot to beat Great Britain’s Lucy Shuker.
Houdet meets Hewett, while Kunieda plays Fernandez
The men’s quarter final tie between France’s Stephane Houdet and Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett is their first Grand Slam meeting since last September’s US Open Final. The Frenchman won that match in three sets.
The winner will face either Sweden’s reigning champion Stefan Olsson or Nicolas Peifer of France in the semi-finals. Olsson goes into the match having recently extended his winning streak on grass in London after claiming the inaugural exhibition wheelchair tennis tournament at The Queen’s Club.
“It could be possible yes (to retain my title), it’s going to be difficult with all of the good opponents, but I will try,” said Olsson as he looks forward to beginning his title defence. “The grass court season suits me really well and since the first time I played on it I have absolutely loved it!”
Both quarter finals in the top half of the draw bring together former Grand Slam final opponents. World No. 1 Shingo Kunieda and Argentina’s Gustavo Fernandez to go head-to-head just over a month after meeting in the Roland Garros final which the Japanese player won.
The remaining men’s singles quarter final sees Great Britain’s Gordon Reid, inaugural Wimbledon singles wheelchair tennis champion in 2016, take on Belgium’s Joachim Gerard.
Kamiji partners de Groot in quest for fifth doubles title
Hewett and Reid begin their bid for a third successive Wimbledon men’s doubles title with a semi-final against Kunieda and Fernandez. French duo and 2016 and 2017 finalists Houdet and Peifer will play Gerard and Olsson for a place in this year’s final.
After winning the last four Wimbledon women’s doubles titles with Great Britain’s Jordanne Whiley, who is currently on maternity leave, Kamiji teams up with de Groot this year. The top seeds open with a semi-final against Kruger and Montjane.
Ellerbrock partners Shuker in the women’s doubles at Wimbledon for the fifth year in a row. They face Dutch second seeds Buis and van Koot in the other semi-final.
This week's tournament also sees the first ever quad doubles exhibition at Wimbledon, featuring four of the world's current top six ranked players with Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne and the USA’s David Wagner playing Australia’s Dylan Aclott and South Africa’s Lucas Sithole.
Full schedule and results available on the ITF’s website.