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Paralympic Sports: Wheelchair Tennis

Wimbledon 2019: Gustavo Fernandez on brink of history

Argentinian wins at All-England Club and is one title away from calendar year Grand Slam 15 Jul 2019
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Gustavo Fernandez celebrates with his hands up while Shingo Kunieda claps in the background

Gustavo Fernandez won Wimbledon and is not one title away from becoming the first male player to complete a calendar year Grand Slam

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By Danielle Rossingh | For the ITF

Gustavo Fernandez has wheelchair tennis history within grasp after winning his third Grand Slam of the year at Wimbledon on Sunday; the Argentinian will become the first male player to claim all four Grand Slam titles over a calendar year if he wins September’s US Open.

In a hard-fought final lasting over two hours, 25-year-old Fernandez beat Japanese legend Shingo Kunieda 4-6 6-3 6-2.

“We'll see,” Fernandez said about making history at the US Open.

“I don't know. I'm just very happy that I pulled this week out because...I really wanted to win here. It was something that I proposed to myself a couple years ago when I saw that I had the chances. I think today is an enjoyable day. We will think tomorrow about the future.”

His defeats in the two previous finals at the All England Club, to Sweden’s Stefan Olsson, were all part of the journey to his first title, Fernandez said.

“They're part of the process,” he said. “I tried to skip stages, but I think sometimes you got to go through them and learn from them. Once you know it, you [try learn from your mistakes]. I think I did it very well today.”

Fernandez’s inspiration

If it had not been for the 23-time Grand Slam champion Kunieda, Fernandez may have never become a wheelchair tennis star.

He first became aware of the sport when he was 12 years old in 2006.

“I watched videos on YouTube,” he recalled. “He [Kunieda] was coming up. Then in 2007, he got to No. 1. I saw him for the first time in the World Team Cup. He was the one that raised the level up. He changed the sport.

“We learn from him, then we try to do our personal work. I think that's why it's (an) absolute honour to play against him. He makes me a better player. I think I push him, too, to try to be better.”

Dutch doubles victory

Earlier in the day, Aniek van Koot and Diede de Groot overwhelmed the Dutch-Italian pairing of Marjolein Buis and Giulia Capocci 6-1 6-1 to win the women’s doubles title.

“Who would have imagined that?” Van Koot told the crowd during the trophy ceremony.

On Saturday, the 28-year-old had beaten her doubles partner and defending champion to clinch her first Wimbledon singles title.

“I certainly didn’t imagine that,” said Van Koot. “It was a wonderful weekend, one that previously only existed in my dreams, so I am very proud. What an end to this weekend, to win it with Diede, thank you very much for playing with me.”